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[NOTE: Naked Capitalism Publisher Yves Smith has provided written authorization to the publisher of this post to reproduce her blog’s original content in its entirety for the benefit of the Daily Kos community.]

Naked Capitalism, “A Home for All Sorts of Bircher Nonsense”
Matt Stoller
Naked Capitalism
January 9, 2012      6:17AM

By Matt Stoller, the former Senior Policy Advisor to Rep. Alan Grayson and a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute. You can reach him at stoller (at) gmail.com or follow him on Twitter at @matthewstoller.

A post I wrote two weeks ago, How Ron Paul Challenges Liberals, created something of a stir.  It was the most commented article on Naked Capitalism, ever.  And it kicked up a series of arguments among Democrats and civil libertarians.  Glenn Greenwald, who has been talking about these problems in prominent forums, followed up with this remarkable post (and then this one), and has taken many insults as a result.  This in and of itself is worth noting – the slurring of those who critique the structure of modern liberalism is an essential tool in the preservation of the status quo.  I’m going to highlight a few of the reactions here without much of a rebuttal, because I think the reactions themselves illustrate the struggle that boxes in traditional partisan Democrats.

First, let’s go back to the idea of the piece.  The basic thesis was that the same financing structures that are used to finance mass industrial warfare were used to create a liberal national economy and social safety.  Liberals supported national mobilization in favor of warfare and the social safety net during the New Deal and World War II (and before that, during the Civil War and WWI), but splintered when confronted with a wars like Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan.  The corruption of the financial channels and the destruction of the social safety net now challenges this 20th century conception of liberalism at its core (which is heavily related to the end of cheap oil).  Ron Paul has knitted together a coalition of those who dislike war financing, which includes a host of unsavory and extremist figures who dislike icons such as Abraham Lincoln and FDR for their own reasons.  But Paul, by criticizing American empire explicitly and its financing channels in the form of the Federal Reserve, also enrages liberals by forcing them to acknowledge that their political economy no longer produces liberal ends.

I’ll be describing in much more detail the shifting of the social contract underlying this failure, which has nothing to do with Ron Paul and would exist with or without him.  For now, I think it’s useful to chronicle the multiple reactions from partisan Democrats.

A fairly common reaction has been to misrepresent the thesis, and argue that those exploring Ron Paul’s ideas are necessarily Ron Paul supporters.  That is how, on this blog post by a regular community member at the Democratic blog Daily Kos, Naked Capitalism was called “a home for all sorts of Bircher nonsense.”  (In the comment thread, there are ardent defenses of the Federal Reserve.)  Katha Pollitt makes a similar argument titled “Progressive Man-Crushes On Ron Paul.”  More interesting, I think, are two blog posts at the liberal site Hullabaloo, one by the well-known blogger Digby and one by a Democratic Party activist by David Atkins.  Let’s start with Atkins, who is wrestling with what liberalism is.  Here’s his remarkable description of his ideology.

Liberalism is and has always been about intervention. It is the opposite of libertarianism, and always has been. Liberals understand that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Left to their own devices, people with weapons and money will always try to exploit and dominate people without weapons and money unless they are stopped from doing so. It is not because we are taught to do so. It’s just innate human nature. If this were not the case, libertarianism would work as an ideology. It does not, and never has at any point in history.

When the government steps in to stop a corporation from dumping noxious chemicals into a stream, that is intervention at the point of a gun, by a superior force against a lesser force attempting to exploit the weak and powerless. When the government steps in to enforce desegregation in schools, that is intervention at the point of a gun, by a superior force against a lesser force attempting to exploit the weak and powerless.

When Abraham Lincoln and the North decided not to allow the nation of the Confederacy–and make no mistake, it was a separate nation with separate laws and an entirely separate culture–to secede from the Union, in large part because the North had an interest in ending slavery in the South and in striking down a competing agrarian economic system, that too was intervention by a superior force against a lesser force attempting to exploit the weak and powerless. To this day, many Southerners feel that their land is being occupied by an illegitimate and invading power, and theirs a Lost Cause that will rise again.

This is what liberalism is. It is unavoidably, inescapably paternalistic in nature. It is so because it understands the inevitable tendency of human beings to be truly awful to one another unless social and legal rules are put in place–yes, by force–to prevent them from doing otherwise.

Conservatives use force of government as well, of course, but not in defense of the weak and oppressed, but rather to maintain the power of money, of patriarchy and of the established social pecking order. Where the oppressive hand of government helps them achieve that, they utilize it. Where libertarian ideology helps them keep power in the hands of the local good old boys, they use that instead.

But a liberal–a progressive, if you will–is always an interventionist, because a liberal understands that society is constantly on a path of self-perfection, in an effort to use reason and good moral judgment to prevent insofar as possible the exploitation of one person by another.

The division between liberals lies in how far to intervene, especially in foreign wars. Almost all would agree that intervention in World War II against the Nazis and Imperial Japanese was the right thing to do. Most would agree that intervention in Kosovo was the right thing to do to stop the ongoing genocide there. Certainly, conservatives at the time opposed involvement in either conflict. Some liberals believe that America should use its power of intervention to help the oppressed around the world by use of force if necessary. Most others understand that such moves, even if well-intentioned, cause more problems and harm than they solve. But there will always be disagreements between liberals about whether, how much and where to intervene in the world in order to stop bad people from doing bad things that either threaten America, or simply threaten to oppress the poor and the weak. Not, of course, that America’s war machine is always or even usually used with such good intentions; quite the contrary. It is usually used for the conservative purpose of exploiting and destroying people and resources for the benefit of the wealthy. But here we speak only of liberal ideology and its relationship to the use of military force.

Similarly, liberals have a conflict when it comes to economic intervention. A few on the left choose to pursue a very hard line of intervention toward economic egalitarianism, leading to a vision in line with Communism. More of us tend to see the need for substantial economic intervention on a capitalist substrate, and lean more toward Democratic Socialism. Others see the need for some intervention, but are wary to stepping too far into the middle of the “free market,” which makes them more Neoliberal. But in all these cases, the question is only a matter of degree.

It is no accident that the most fervent economic interventionists on the left have also turned out to be the most imperial and bellicose (e.g., the Soviets and the Chinese.) They believe most in the necessity of force to prevent exploitation by the holders of capital, and see no reason why that necessity should stop at their own borders.

Contra Stoller, there is indeed a conflict within liberalism, but it is precisely this: a matter of how much intervention is necessary. It is not a fundamental conflict of ideals.

For Atkins, liberalism is dominance, with liberals holding the dominant position.  Mankind’s nature is brutal and exploitative, liberalism restrains it using equally harsh methods.

Atkins furthermore equates support for Democrats with policies that benefit the middle class, in a nod to Cold War era liberal anti-communism.  This kind of alpha-beta mindset implies that criticism and rejection of Barack Obama, the chief alpha of the Democrats, is a threat to Atkins’ version of liberalism itself.

On to Digby, who throws up her hands at the question.

I have to admit that I don’t fully understand Stoller’s thesis although I do find myself instinctually rejecting the idea that liberalism is based upon a contingent relationship between finance and war making — but perhaps that’s just because of the very unpleasant historic resonances in that conspiratorial premise. Considering that war has been omnipresent since humans emerged from the slime, I find it hard to see this correlation as anything more than coincidental, but it’s possible that I’m being obtuse. In any case, I was more confused by it than anything and that’s probably my own fault.

Admitting that, I will simply say that I define my own liberalism as a belief in egalitarianism, universal human rights, individual liberty and social justice, all tempered by a pragmatic skepticism of all forms of power, private as well as governmental. I prefer democracy because it provides the best possibility of delivering on those desires while keeping authoritarian power at bay even though it’s ridiculously inefficient and often corrupt.

I have been against every war of my lifetime but I would have supported intervening in WWII. I rail constantly against the encroaching surveillance/torture state (at all levels, not just the federal)but I do not recognize that states, property or corporations also have “rights” which may supersede the individual. (And in that respect I’m more supportive of individual liberty than many of the so-called libertarians.) I’m also against rapacious capitalism and discrimination, both private and public, and believe in a reasonable redistribution of wealth for the common good. I think the challenges of the environment require not just collective national effort, but collective global action.

Digby writes that she does not understand the thesis, but instinctively rejects it as conspiratorial nonetheless.  Her response as to what she believes in suggests not a coherent system, but simply a menu of concepts she finds pleasing.  She lists off a set of concepts, like a consumer at a shopping market, picking and choosing what she wants.   Oh, I’ll have the human rights, the egalitarianism, some social justice, and a side of, oh that looks good, “pragmatic skepticism of all forms of power, private as well as governmental.”  Oh, and democracy, that too.  Yummy.  Having such an attitude requires ignoring the historical links between the oil industry, war-making, and the New Deal.  It requires believing that infrastructure like highways and airports were built because good liberals were in charge, instead of the very obvious point that this stuff made the oil industry a lot of money while spreading prosperity to the middle class.

Calling this history conspiratorial is consumer liberalism speaking. Fundamentally, consumerism is about being averse to power and desirous of someone else to run the system for you so you don’t have to look at how it works.  Just buy the sausage in the suburban supermarket, and don’t look at how it’s made.  For instance, Kevin Drum, another consumer liberal, says that Ron Paul is never worth having as an ally, then throws off this aside when discussing how he agrees with Ron Paul’s non-interventionism, except when he doesn’t.  ”If Iran seriously tried to mine the Strait of Hormuz, for example, I’d fully expect the U.S. Navy to put a stop to it, even if that meant sinking a few Iranian vessels.”  Drum throws around a war with Iran with a cavalier attitude as to the economic consequences (let’s leave the moral consequences aside for now).  It is unclear whether Drum understands the difference between warfare and the images he sees on television that are called warfare.  He just wants his sausage to come in nice neat plastic containers.

Now, I do not mean to pick on these people specifically.  It’s just important to recognize that these attitudes, as well as those of Greenwald, are marbled throughout our elite institutions.  I don’t want people to get the idea that there is no debate happening – there’s a reason Greenwald is widely read, and why Naked Capitalism has impacted the financial debate the way it has. But by and large, the recognition that the old liberal order was built on certain alliances and structures that have collapsed and turned malevolent is still not widely understood.

People sense that something is deeply wrong, but that is still just a feeling, an unpleasant tickle in the mind, not enunciated or acknowledged.  The intellectual deficit is there, frightening to look at, even as this winter (so far) is one of the mildest and driest in recorded American history and the Eurozone teeters and our current order comes nowhere near even considering how to solve these problems.  It’s not our fault, there’s nothing we can do differently, etc, is still the order of the day.

But political ideologies are systems.  They have to be financed, there has to be an energy model so you can fuel things, they have to display internally consistency so they don’t break down, people have to run the machinery, the programs have to work, the people that manage and implement have to have ethical, social, and financial norms, there must be safeguards,etc.  You can’t just randomly choose a bunch of stuff you want and call it an ideology.  As the New Deal era model sheds the last trappings of anything resembling social justice or equity for what used to be called the middle class (a process which Tom Ferguson has been relentlessly documenting since the early 1980s), the breakdown will become impossible to ignore.  You can already see how flimsy the arguments are, from the partisans.

#            #            #

When it first appeared, I commented in this blog post; the one referenced by Stoller, above. (See: HERE, HERE and HERE, for some of my brief sentiments on all of this.)

Here’s a comment from the threads of Stoller’s post, yesterday, which does a much more thorough job of reflecting my own thoughts; perhaps even better than I could, myself.

Julian says:

January 9, 2012 at 8:15 am

If attempting to explain how the collapse of the middle class and the growing assualt on civil liberites in the US relates to the growing insistence by elites that modern State financing, which any historian will tell you has a long and intimate association with liberalism, be used only for war-making and shielding them personally from their poor business decisions (ie, only for their benefit) is “Navel -gazing”, then so is the idea that, by understanding what brought about the Global Financial Crisis, we can better respond to it, and build fire-breaks against it in future.

Considering that this site has been wholly dedicated to the latter proposition for the last handful of years, I would say you’ve chosen the wrong place to push your dismissive personal philosophy of anti-intellectualism and willful ignorance. There is nothing at all controversial about the idea that liberalism and financial innovation both public and private are related. Hamilton was one of the most successful bankers of his time, for Thor’s sake, and anyone who can read the Federalist Papers and say he wasn’t a proponent of civil liberty is either grossly disinegenous or suffering a head injury. Financial complexity, managed debt, and stock-trading (that is, capitalism) have walked hand-in-hand with liberalism since its birth in the Enlightenment; hell, since before its birth, all the way back to the perrenially struggles between merchant, peasant, city man, and aristocrat of the Middle Ages. Of course liberals deployed the same tools and theories they advocated for business in the service of the State, which liberals long championed as an alternative to Fief and Kingdom, and what was until WWII the State’s primary concern; war-making. Why do you find this entirely accurate assement of political history offensive?

Stoller’s argument is that this alliance between finance, the State, and freedom that has long lain at the heart of liberalism is currently breaking down, and that this crisis is cracks in liberal concensus to become visible. He presents that assertion with merit, and thus it is worthy of serious engagement as opposed to name-calling and petulant dismissal. Just by asking the question he is “helping”, though not perhaps by your definition of that word, or towards whatever goal you consider worthy enough to advocate here but leave entirely undefined. Liberals need to face these arguments, consider them seriously, and reach a constructive solution; the contemporary go-to American political solution of sniping at the messenger while temporizing will solve nothing.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (142+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ek hornbeck, run around, dkmich, banjolele, marykk, DRo, roseeriter, gulfgal98, paradox, radarlady, priceman, splashoil, Terra Mystica, palantir, real world chick, slatsg, Actbriniel, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, Sandino, WheninRome, profh, GearRatio, triv33, lostinamerica, david mizner, Kingsmeg, dance you monster, coppercelt, Dr Erich Bloodaxe RN, LaEscapee, TheMomCat, Ginger1, seabos84, merrily1000, Robobagpiper, joe shikspack, elengul, exlrrp, raboof, arendt, philipmerrill, Hear Our Voices, TracieLynn, m16eib, cultjake, daveygodigaditch, Andrew F Cockburn, semiot, Friend of the court, salmo, psychodrew, miningcityguy, Brooke In Seattle, PhilJD, ratzo, pat bunny, Indiana Bob, frandor55, Sun Tzu, No one gets out alive, jfromga, CitizenOfEarth, MKinTN, Empower Ink, Tam in CA, aufklaerer, PBen, cassandraX, cloudbustingkid, Angela Quattrano, One Pissed Off Liberal, Mnemosyne, iliketodrum, recentdemocrat, FindingMyVoice, gooderservice, route66, Rogneid, Pescadero Bill, ActivistGuy, Betty Pinson, Citizen Rat, Muggsy, RFK Lives, Jarrayy, On The Bus, Thinking Fella, poligirl, radical simplicity, texasmom, Jackson L Haveck, LillithMc, albrt, Publius2008, joanneleon, 2laneIA, bronte17, Skennet Boch, Marie, blueoregon, SpecialKinFlag, theunreasonableHUman, Mac in Maine, bigrivergal, GenXangster, opinionated, FogCityJohn, eztempo, J M F, eightlivesleft, ZhenRen, 3goldens, Agathena, temptxan, PhilK, Punditus Maximus, dotsright, Egg, dksbook, jrooth, 420 forever, caul, KJG52, shaharazade, cville townie, Jim P, naperken, pgm 01, mofembot, BruceMcF, Remillard, claude, Iron Spider, hester, BradyB, Nada Lemming, terabytes, Yogurt721, SolarMom, denise b, Superskepticalman, Wolf10

    "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

    by bobswern on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 01:58:22 AM PST

    •  Ron Paul is a crazy right wing bigot! (44+ / 0-)

      See, I just debunked the argument that the underpinnings of liberalism have been undermined by peak oil, climate change, population growth and resource limits.

      A closer look shows that Ron Paul is irrelevant to the fundamental problem. Ron Paul was raising an "Inconvenient Truth" that the traditional formula for liberalism has cracks in it.

      Of course, Ron Paul's Darwinian, dog eat dog, solution is not a solution unless you are happy watching billions of poor people die across Africa and Asia.

      When the water evaporates, streams dry up and crops wither:

      Libertarianism=Death

      Now back to your regularly scheduled pie fights.

      And I'm going to go back to try to find a way to mobilize people to stop climate change and to develop an energy system that develops jobs and strong communities.

      look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

      by FishOutofWater on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 05:58:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ron Paul's *Social* Darwinism. (10+ / 0-)

        Nothing wrong with Darwinism as laid out in 1859, in 'On the Origins of Species' by Charles Darwin.

        As many right wing libertarians, Paul (and his repulsive offspring) can be accused of subscribing to Social Darwinism, the crude idea of applying widely misunderstood notions like 'survival of the fittest' and 'natural selection' to the moral/ philosophical discourse about human society.  

        Also, the argument here seems to be whether liberalism is systematically tied to military Keynesianism.

        The only reason Paul is even mentioned is not because he makes a coherent argument or adds anything to the debate, but because he may run and steal votes from a Democratic party that has no plan for Afghanistan and no convincing answers what the US military is doing there in the first place.

        Having the debate now does more good than harm, imo, because people are weary of the wars and the bloated defense budget anyway, some lefty bloggers pie-fighting about it or not. If he decides to run, Paul will make sure to hit these points home with the college crowds, and it might be a good idea to come up with some powerful answers on behalf of Democrats.

        "Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect." Mark Twain

        by aufklaerer on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 07:36:44 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Indeed, no convincing answers ... (6+ / 0-)

          ... why we are still in Germany. Given the current economic balance between the EU and Russia, the EU could easliy pay for its own defense against any immediate border threat. Indeed, as shown by the US in the late 1930's, could just as easily afford it even if it decides to throw itself into a Great Depression this year.

          The Beauty Platform including:

          • A Brawny Recovery founded building toward Sustainable Energy Independence
          • Pursuit of mutually beneficial balanced trade throughout the Atlantic and Pacific Rims
          • Drawdown of wasteful military spending focusing on the deliberately expensive Forward Base  Empire

          ... is internally consistent and also perfectly compatible with a a strong safety net, strong respect for civil liberty and social freedom, so can appeal to consumer liberals even if they are not in a position to be platform architects.

          Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

          by BruceMcF on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 11:57:54 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Or... (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cedwyn, caul, TheMomCat, foufou

        Alternatively, maybe we have an imperfect president who is to the right of liberals on a couple of issues.

        And the liberals in the interest groups that are to the left of Obama are pissed. And who can blame them? Obama is wrong on those issues.

        But you all are trying to make this into some sort of grand theory of liberalism.  Your tortured attempts to crowbar Ron Paul into your problems with the President are getting ridiculous.

        Nutty people have been railing against the Fed (see: the Jews) and foreign wars (see: the Jews made us do it!) for a long time. But only traditional liberals have a rational response on these issues.

        LOOK IT! I WROTE A COMMENT ON BIG ORANGE SEXY TIME!!!!

        by Mark Warner is God on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 07:45:20 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Now here's a rational response from an open-minded (28+ / 0-)

          ..."traditional liberal" Kossack...

          ...But only traditional liberals have a rational response on these issues.

          I'm  "traditional liberal" (at least as the term was defined up until a few years ago)...and a (secular) Jew, too, as a matter of fact...and, here's a newsflash: even bathshit crazy, anti-semitic GOP'ers will, once in a blue moon, support something or make a statement regarding a matter with which I might concur...but, at the end of the day, they're still bathshit crazy, anti-semitic, GOP'ers...and I don't lose sight of that...and I sure as hell won't be supporting them for elected office...regardless of whether it's the Presidency or dog catcher.

          And, by the way, I'll be voting for the president's re-election and encouraging friends, family and others to do the same this year. Concurrently, I'll remain very critical of the administration's "don't-rock-the-boat" economic policies...until those positions translate into a force substantial enough to move the Overton Window back (with regard to all things economic) to where was in this Party prior to the rightwing onslaught of the past three decades (concerning same).

          "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

          by bobswern on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 08:22:56 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Personally I'm not sure what Ron Paul has (13+ / 0-)

          been saying, but if he's been saying we need to get out of Afghanistan and we need to shrink the MIC, and he's doing it on the national stage, I'll get behind him on that point.

          I think that's what this entire mess breaks down to, and it ain't exactly crowbarring Ron Paul into anything. In fact it would make him about the only one on the national stage, in particular - on the Republican national stage, saying such things.

          For those of us -- liberals in opposition to the war and out of control military spending -- there's no one else to point to and say "Hey Mr. President, this guy running for president is saying things more in line with my feelings then you are, what gives?"

          See, other then Paul who is on the national stage as a presidential contender (and who I personally see as the dummy in the middle of the circle every one is knocking around), we have zero leverage in trying to sway the president's direction.

          ZERO.

          For some others, I guess, the giant war footprint of this country is better left unmentioned during the campaign season and Paul just becomes the red herring.

          •  And I'd just like to add... (4+ / 0-)

            throwing another potential candidate in the face of a sitting administration is the only 'power politics' we economically insignificant voters can play. Even if it is an obvious feint.

          •  I don't think it's really about Ron Paul at all (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Marie

            It's about trying to shut up Glenn Greenwald.

            Because he thinks his job is to be an independent journalist and not a loyal Democratic booster.

            The Ron Paul piece just gave them something new to go after him about. It wasn't the first thing and it won't be the last. They just can't tolerate him.

            We decided to move the center farther to the right by starting the whole debate from a far-right position to begin with. - Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay

            by denise b on Wed Jan 11, 2012 at 12:39:19 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  good to see you about! n/t (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          decitect

          My goal is to make the world safe for anarchy. - 4Freedom

          by Cedwyn on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 08:35:36 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  I'm not much concerned whether ... (5+ / 0-)

          ... the President is to the right of liberals "on a couple of issues".

          More critical is that the White House and both houses of Congress seem to be dominated by a willingness to be on the side of too little, too late on climate change and the economic freedom of the country. If we don't pursue sustainable energy independence, the rest of it is arguing about how comfortable or uncomfortable the ride downhill is going to be.

          Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

          by BruceMcF on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 12:01:08 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  The response to MeteorBlade's comment (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      caul, dotsright, foufou, Larsstephens

      that you link to is amusing in its self-righteousness.  If that post's utter contempt for DKos is representative of NakedCapitalism.com, then I'm not sure why Kossacks should take that site seriously.

      I'll assume that that post was not representative of NakedCapitalism.com, but your crowd should acknowledge that the "Bircher" post was not representative of all DKos either.

      BTW, didn't Stoller use to run OpenLeft, a site that collapsed under the weight of its own purity?

    •  It would have been more helpful if... (4+ / 0-)

      ...you had linked to my comment there. Here's what I said:

      For the record, the individual who wrote the “Bircher nonsense” blog post that Matt Stoller links at the beginning of his piece originally posted it at another web site where he is among the leading writers there who regularly attack Daily Kos as not being friendly enough to the Democratic Party or Barack Obama and his policies.

      He in no way represents Daily Kos, officially or unofficially.

      The surest way to predict the future is to invent it. — Stephen Post. [Me at Twitter.]

      by Meteor Blades on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 10:46:35 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Sorry. I see your link does go to my comment... (4+ / 0-)

      ...mea culpa.

      The surest way to predict the future is to invent it. — Stephen Post. [Me at Twitter.]

      by Meteor Blades on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 10:51:22 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Bob Swern, ek hornbeck, and Matt Stoller (59+ / 0-)

    Three of my favorite guys all in one place.  

    "People sense that something is deeply wrong,.."  My lord.  Does a ton of bricks need to fall on their heads?   1990 and NAFTA was a huge clue the alliance with liberalism was dead; and the infamous "trickle" was money, power, and jobs up - even if it meant out to do it.  

    You can't see a new shore unless you let go of the coast.

    by dkmich on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 02:40:08 AM PST

  •  The End of Liberalism? (17+ / 0-)

    I haven't read the article so I won't comment directly on the thesis until I do but, if the argument is that the New Deal Era version of Liberalism has broken down due to the end of cheap oil that is an extremely narrow and distorted diagnosis.  

    It is no coincidence that the American middle class started declining once the U.S. lost its de facto economic autarky and became much more enmeshed in the world economy.  The 1970s saw the U.S. start to become dependent upon oil imports for the first time.  The 1980s saw the blossoming of the transnational (later multinational) corporate model and by the 1990s, globalization was fully entrained in the world economy.  

    It has been economic and political globalization that has finally allowed corporations to severe the unwritten social contract between the Federal Government, the middle classes and the U.S. economy.  Now the cheapest labor can be sourced to produce the goods and even many services corporations provide.  Moreover, the 1% have become an international class of plutocrats having much more in common with each other than with their own citizens.

    Of course, the alternative to the Liberal State, with its focus on a stable middle class, is there to see in many developing countries that lack a liberal state or large middle class and that is authoritarianism, unstable, violent societies and stagnant, backward economies. That is the Conservative, Republican future just as the Jim Crow south was a modern version of feudalism.

  •  Beautiful. Marking for reread after I fully wake (11+ / 0-)

    Nice "big picture" analysis. Of course most people hate "big picture" analysis, but I'm sure you all ready know that.

    I think I'll stick with the smart guy.

    by PowWowPollock on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 03:30:33 AM PST

  •  Excellent rebuttal to the nonsense (29+ / 0-)

    By Matt Stoller and excellent coment by Julian who knows her Hamilton and economic history.

    I'm deeply disappointed in digby. Everyone else I don't respect even a little bit so it's not surprising that sewer spewage post(from someone who claims to support American manufacturing while getting it wrong unlike Julian showing those at the spew have no sense of real economic history).

    Stoller’s argument is that this alliance between finance, the State, and freedom that has long lain at the heart of liberalism is currently breaking down, and that this crisis is cracks in liberal concensus to become visible. He presents that assertion with merit, and thus it is worthy of serious engagement as opposed to name-calling and petulant dismissal. Just by asking the question he is “helping”, though not perhaps by your definition of that word, or towards whatever goal you consider worthy enough to advocate here but leave entirely undefined. Liberals need to face these arguments, consider them seriously, and reach a constructive solution; the contemporary go-to American political solution of sniping at the messenger while temporizing will solve nothing.

    Thanks for posting it, Bob. I'm glad you have permission.

    Pro Life??? Conservatives want live babies so they can raise them to be dead soldiers!- George Carlin - I Illustrate #OWS protest T-shirts you can buy at priceman political prints

    by priceman on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 03:48:08 AM PST

    •  It's worth noting David Atkins' response (42+ / 0-)

      Which was posted at Hullabaloo.  A couple of excerpts:

      Dominance is not part of the liberal program. Far from it. Remember the basic dictum: power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.  Dominance corrupts, even liberal dominance. That's part of what went wrong with totalitarian communism: too much dominance by ostensibly leftist ideologues who were allowed to maximize their own power at the expense of others. The program of liberalism is not about putting dominant people in charge, so much as about creating self-regulating systems of government that function for the benefit of people regardless of the who is temporarily in charge.

      So liberalism does not seek to correct human exploitative behavior with "equally harsh methods." It seeks to do so with systems of legal and social intervention. The use of force is only a last, if sometimes necessary, resort. Liberals need not hold a position of dominance, if the proper systems are in place to check the power of those who would seek to exploit others. That, in fact, is what the perfection of civilization is supposed to be all about.

      There is no sense in which attacks on President Obama are a threat to liberalism.  I have been a very frequent of the Obama Administration myself, and (commenters here notwithstanding) in most left-leaning circles have been characterized a frequent critic of the Administration, not a defender. A google search of references to my posts here turn up more critics of my work from Administration defenders lumping me in with Greenwald and Hamsher, than the other way around.

      The problem with the Obama Administration has always been that it is not doing enough to implement a social contract that will prevent economic exploitation, bound by rule of law and the implied threat of force to enforce it. Rather than embodying liberalism in his persona, it is the Obama Administration's failure in many cases to implement a liberal agenda that is the problem.

      I haven't read these articles closely enough to have a dog in this fight.  Just thought Atkins should be given a chance to defend himself.

      When Free Speech is outlawed, only outlaws will have Free Speech.

      by Dallasdoc on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 05:35:47 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I remember early sniping at the Occupy Movement (25+ / 0-)

        and that's hard to forget talking about how they need to dress better and how they weren't' serious so that is hard to get over. I have agreed with some of what he has written in the past. I linked to part of his article and the Obama administration cracking down on the marijuana dispensaries in CA, but he didn't frame his initial attack on Stoller very well. They may have misunderstood each other, but Stoller has been way more consistent than Atkins IMO and that counts.

        I don't find digby or Atkins convincing when they outright dismiss the points Stoller or Glenn Greenwald make about how Ron Paul is making traction because of the void this president and Democrats in Congress with attention have left.

        My main contention is with citizen k and everyone at the peoples Spew spewing out hatred toward the left everyday. What an eyesore full of propaganda. This was the greatest rebuttal to that.

        You'll know what I think of the Ron Paul orange paintbrush this week(maybe). I appreciate you weighing in doc. You know you are one of my favorite people here.

        Pro Life??? Conservatives want live babies so they can raise them to be dead soldiers!- George Carlin - I Illustrate #OWS protest T-shirts you can buy at priceman political prints

        by priceman on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 05:57:55 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Just when I thought I was out (29+ / 0-)

        of the Paul wars, they pull me back in!

        Atkins' conception of liberalism  -- "this is what liberalism is. It is unavoidably, inescapably paternalistic in nature" -- is nothing I want to be associated with, but this, nonetheless is the kind of debate we ought to be having, what liberalism is and what it means, or should mean.

        Instead, there are serious or semi-serious people using up loads of cyberspace to attack Greenwald, because as Stoller says:

        the slurring of those who critique the structure of modern liberalism is an essential tool in the preservation of the status quo.

        That is not to say that I find Stoller's critique thoroughly convincing, or that there isn't room to find fault with Greenwald's, but I think each is, to his credit, challenging the conventional thinking of progressives -- the kind of tribal we-good, they-bad thinking that has contributed to the dominance of conservatism. They've been doing so for many years, and their invoking Paul has given their long-time detractors a stick with which to poke them.

        It might be good, in any case, if people could engage in this needed discussion (and I'll indict myself here as well) while dispensing with the leftier-than-thou attitude.

        It wasn't that long ago, recall, that Stoller was a Thomas-Friedman-admiring supporter of the Iraq war, which doesn't undermine what he's saying -- I respect his move leftward -- but it suggests a need for humility and for a focus on issues, instead of personalities and perceived lefty cred.

        •  As I understand it (13+ / 0-)

          Atkins' "paternalistic" concept is that government has to enforce rules that ensure a level playing field for the rest of society, to prevent other power centers from destroying the liberal society we all want.  I don't think that's necessarily objectionable, since it basically describes regulation of Wall Street and civil rights laws.  

          That's not necessarily objectionable, and is a basic feature of non-laissez faire political economy.  I'm not clear that Atkins' paternalistic writ ventures beyond that, but I'd be happy to be enlightened.

          When Free Speech is outlawed, only outlaws will have Free Speech.

          by Dallasdoc on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 07:00:06 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well at the very least he ought to (14+ / 0-)

            choose his words more carefully, especially when the word he used to describe liberalism is the same one that Rush Limbaugh uses:

            pa·ter·nal·ism  (p-tûrn-lzm)
            n.
            A policy or practice of treating or governing people in a fatherly manner, especially by providing for their needs without giving them rights or responsibilities.

            This is horrible both politically and substantively. To say that power corrupts (one of my guiding beliefs) is one thing; to say that people need to be fathered is quite another.

            My kind of liberalism takes an altogether more optimistic view of humans (though certainly not of concentrated power) and seeks to increase their freedom, including and especially though material means, because liberty's impossible without economic justice. And views the state as a necessarily powerful entity needed to restrain private power.

            Try as I might, I can't quite join the anti-statists (anarchists) but I do believe a fundamental problem is that it requires a powerful state that inevitably becomes corrupted.

            •  We need more fraternalism and less parentalism (13+ / 0-)

              in our social organization. Citizens are not children.

              Non enim propter gloriam, diuicias aut honores pugnamus set propter libertatem solummodo quam Nemo bonus nisi simul cum vita amittit. -Declaration of Arbroath

              by Robobagpiper on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 07:19:33 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Can you give an example of "parentalism"? (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                alizard
                •  Parentalism is, in essence, the notion that the (7+ / 0-)

                  electorate is broadly incapable of behaving responsibly, and must be dictated to for its own good. It purports to be a kinder form of authoritariaism.

                  Right-wing parentalism (aka, paternal authoritarianism) is present in all sorts of attempts to criminalize consentual sexual behavior. But left-wing parentalism (or, by analogy, maternal authoritarianism) appears in attempts to ban or regulate to the point thereof, "toys" deemed dangerous: guns, silly string, lawn darts, and naughty lyrics on albums. Paternalists and maternalists often find areas of common cause: the war on drugs appeals to the former because it punishes people who are acting "irresponsibly", and the latter because it criminalizes a dangerous "toy".

                  Technocracy, which advocates "democratic reform", but then shuts down effective democracy in favor of political and economic management of, by, and for elites, uses a parentalist excuse for it: ordinary people are too ignorant to understand how economies work at peak efficiency, so must be deceived into putting the technocrats and their favorite "experts" into power.

                  Basically, any time you see "the average person is too stupid to...", you're seeing the genesis of a parentalist ideology.

                  Non enim propter gloriam, diuicias aut honores pugnamus set propter libertatem solummodo quam Nemo bonus nisi simul cum vita amittit. -Declaration of Arbroath

                  by Robobagpiper on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 08:49:12 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Quite ... while populism needs a healthy ... (4+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    jrooth, priceman, alizard, JesseCW

                    ... does of progressivism to avoid the siren call of self-serving rabble rousers, progressivism needs a healthy does of populism to avoid its own siren call of elitist paternalism.

                    Knowing "the right answer" is not good enough for the establishment of a durable institution to effectively reach progressive policy goals: the support for the essential features of that institution must have a democratic footing in order to withstand the inevitable efforts of vested interests to termite the institution and turn it into a hollow shell.

                    Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

                    by BruceMcF on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 12:25:50 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  I kind of like that the federal government (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Pescadero Bill

                    has the power to deem some toys, cars, chemicals and other things as dangerous.  Do they sometimes go too far?  Yes.  But the average citizen simply does not have the power to investigate and than litigate when that unsafe toy makes little Johnny sick or if Ford is making a car with an unsafe design.  And really, the price of a life shouldn't be the price of doing business.  I think drugs should be decriminalized completely.  That doesn't mean I want Coca Cola returning to the practice of selling cocaine in their soft drinks.   There has to be some regulation.  Almost all regulation can be classified as paternalist or maternalistic because regulation is designed to protect someone or something: the environment, the market, consumers, citizens.  

                    This country had a time like the one you were describing - it was called the 1800s.  Modern life needs regulation.  Once you realize that a person is no longer a libertarian, and it becomes a matter of how much and where.  

                    •  There's a fundamental difference between (0+ / 0-)

                      saying "this is a product that is inadvertently dangerous, and we will prohibit its manufacture" - that's a control on big business - and "this is a product that is inherently dangerous when misused, and we don't trust you with it" - that's a statement about how unintelligent the government thinks its citizens are.

                      Some items that are inherently dangerous to a degree where they present hazards even in storage; and there is a presumption of need for regulation higher than others. But much of liberal parentalism isn't about toxic chemicals surreptitiously in products or in runoff, or mechanical parts that randomly dangerously fail; but about denying citizens something they should reasonably know must be used with caution, "for their own good".

                      Conflation of rejection of parentalism with "libertarianism" is, ultimately, what pushes many people unwittingly into the arms of that dangerous ideology.

                      Non enim propter gloriam, diuicias aut honores pugnamus set propter libertatem solummodo quam Nemo bonus nisi simul cum vita amittit. -Declaration of Arbroath

                      by Robobagpiper on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 06:19:09 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

            •  A fundamental problem (6+ / 0-)

              with liberalism, that is. Or paradox perhaps.

              •  Its neither a problem nor paradox, its a choice (0+ / 0-)

                All regulation by its nature is paternalistic.  Unless you want to live in an unregulated society, you have to make choices of what you choose to regulate and what you don't.  When you start making those choices, you aren't a libertarian anymore, you join the U.S political spectrum.  

            •  Governments must deal with concentrated power (12+ / 0-)

              I think the Founders recognized the inherent corruptibility of government and tried, through checks and balances, to mitigate that problem.  While one might regard human nature with optimism (I don't, necessarily) it would be foolish in the extreme to ignore the tendency of power centers in a society to accrue more power to themselves.

              Atkins' "paternalism" may be a bad word choice, but it implies to my reading a strong government that does not allow other power centers to destroy fundamentally liberal governing principles.  One might expect a better word, but it's hard to object to the underlying idea.

              When Free Speech is outlawed, only outlaws will have Free Speech.

              by Dallasdoc on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 07:26:04 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  It implies not only that but also ... (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                priceman, Dallasdoc

                ... a vision for how that is to be achieved, which is by those who know better taking care of things while the majority of the citizenry sit back passively and let them.

                Its sometimes hard for those who do "know better" to accept, but just knowing better is simply not enough. Only an engaged and active citizenry can prevent the long term demolition of even the best, most effectively designed institutions at the hands of vested interests whose short term interests lay in just a little bit less regulation than the regulation they currently experience.

                Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

                by BruceMcF on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 12:29:11 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Completely agree (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  priceman

                  Liberalism is a vision of how government should best regulate power centers and preserve the rights and opportunities of individuals from cooptation by those power centers.  It is an ideological framework, like other political ideologies.

                  An engaged citizenry is especially important for a liberal government and social order.  Other types of political arrangements generally do not require, or actively discourage, citizen involvement.

                  When Free Speech is outlawed, only outlaws will have Free Speech.

                  by Dallasdoc on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 02:31:14 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  But no governing coalition is ever ... (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    priceman

                    ... a pure representative of an ideological framework, so if we wish to understand Post-WWII American Liberalism in practice, we need to consider regularities of behavior in addition to the system of folkviews regarding justified rationalizations of actions that comprise ideological frameworks.

                    An engaged citizenry may be especially important for the survival of a liberal government and social order, in the Post-WWII American Liberalism sense, but that does not automatically imply that a liberal government and social order like Post-WWII American Liberalism encourages and recreates the form of citizen engagement that it requires for its continued survival.

                    And the stories a governing coalition tells about itself in soliciting the votes of the electorate are in general not a complete or unbiased description of that coalition. Post-WWII American Liberalism was, for example, an elitist progressivism, an elitism that later elite reactionaries were able to exploit to the benefit of the radical reactionary movement that they funded and helped develop.

                    Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

                    by BruceMcF on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 04:10:43 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

            •  I don't use the "power corrupts" (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              priceman

              slogan as much as this, from the Bard of Avon:

              But man, proud man,
              Drest in a little brief authority,
              Most ignorant of what he ’s most assured,
              His glassy essence, like an angry ape,
              Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven
              As make the angels weep.

              -- Measure for Measure, Act II, Scene 2

              Venality, corruption, and ignorance are different things, but all with power are given over to strikingly and devastatingly similar consequences.  That's why liberal democracy is needed -- to hold the wicked in check, and correct the errors of the stupid.

              There must be something rotten in the very core of a social system which increases its wealth without diminishing its misery. -- Karl Marx

              by caul on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 11:19:34 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  Also laws like banning smoking, continued Drug War (4+ / 0-)

            What's "liberal" about protecting us from ourselves?

            •  How about protecting others from you? (0+ / 0-)

              The laws against public smoking were passed after evidence of the harmful effects of secondhand smoke became overwhelming.

              The Drug war is yet another stupid fit of public morality to which this country is perpetually prone.  I see liberals and bluenoses as separate species.

              When Free Speech is outlawed, only outlaws will have Free Speech.

              by Dallasdoc on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 12:12:18 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  However, it might be that they ... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Dallasdoc

                ... are the same species but a different subspecies.

                I would certainly not trust a progressive change coalition that was dominated by conventional liberals, but on the other hand its not something that causes me to lose sleep, given that the likelihood of conventional American liberals being able to dominate a progressive change coalition that was sufficiently large to be able to achieve durable reform.

                Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

                by BruceMcF on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 12:31:19 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  The laws against second hand smoke (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Marie

                have gone far behind any realistic health purpose.

                I say that as a former smoker who find wiffs of smoke not just foul smelling, but a danger to my sobriety at times.

                The wiff of smoke that waitress gets serving patrons on an outdoor patio is nothing compared to the car exhaust she's exposed to at the same time.  The bad smell coming from the cigar of the guy 30 paces away down the beach is nothing compared to breathing the air on the pike for 2 hours riding the bus to the beach.

                Indoors?  yeah.  It's a serious health issue, particularly if we're talking about prolonged exposure.  

                Outdoors?  I've seen someone ticketed for smoking a cigarette 2 feet from a raging bonfire.  A eucalyptus bonfire.

                The laws against public smoking have veered from category one to category two in much of the country.  

                They now cater to that person who starts "coughing" when they spot a smoker 30 yards downwind from them.

                Fear is your only God.

                by JesseCW on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 08:10:51 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

      •  If David (0+ / 0-)

        Is a critic then you and I are black flag anarchists.  Pretty weak sauce when you consider he is in marketing.  He can spin better than that.  Oh, and I'd like to know if and when he has disclosed his political clients when he has blogged here.  

        I will not send money to, work for, or vote for, any candidate whose behavior benefits the 1% over the 99%. Work for my vote, money and time, or lose it. Not the other way around.

        by Nada Lemming on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 07:56:50 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  What fun the whole show has been (35+ / 0-)

    I'm a good political and social scientist, I've been watching and reading the incredibly sordid fight and read everything the whole time, and I have a few observations:

    • Stoller's thesis is simplistic and wobbly.  Never heard the correlation of liberals supporting American finance for simultaneous warfare and social safety nets? Because Jesus Christ it's out there, I'm not saying he's wrong, I'm considering it, but he can't go around stating the thesis like it's Total Obvious Truth, it's a long way from that.

      The interestingly vast ego required to do that mental mantle is then used to describe Heather Parton in disparaging terms in, again, an amusingly new True Classification of consumer liberalism.  Mr. Stoller, whatever Ultimate University of Obvious Knowledge We Should Know you went to, well, please give everybody the fucking address so we can get the yummy truth and stop irritating your tumescent cranium.  In the meantime please keep firmly in mind that if you ever talk about Digby like that in my presence you're in for a very, very bad day.

    • The tribal reaction to Glenn Greenwald's work fills me with a dismay deep in scope. Glenn has been nothing but reasonable and totally in adherence to the truth as he knows it, which is extremely good.  To see this viciously childish reaction to Glenn in many quarters where I consider myself to be among friends has been awful. So many people so totally lost.
    • The primary issue, of course, is not what Glenn so brilliantly enunciates but that it so boldly and correctly states about our President:  he's a blatant militarist who has no problem with sustained war and violence.  There was no way to know that until he empirically went out and did it.

    Once a Party leader takes that stance it's extremely difficult for others to speak out, especially in our hacked media environment.  Humans follow leadership and authority in amazingly docile form, we have voices of peace and anti-empire in our Party but with a war president most will be quiet or ignored, so much is set from the oval office.

    But oh my God the uproar it all cause when the real truth about The Man is upon is. What a disgrace.

    I'm a voice of peace and anti-empire, I've been here the whole time, I won't go away. Don't you dare classify me as anything, Matt Stoller.  When you've got a thesis that can really leverage peace in this land of blood and bombs I'll be impressed.

    •  "Humans follow leadership and authority " (10+ / 0-)

      I have been anti authority all my life, and I don't see myself as particularly unique.   Leadership and authority are antithetical in my book.   Might does not make right.  To be effective, management should happen from the bottom up.

      You can't see a new shore unless you let go of the coast.

      by dkmich on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 04:15:22 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  yeah (18+ / 0-)
      The tribal reaction to Glenn Greenwald's work fills me with a dismay deep in scope. Glenn has been nothing but reasonable and totally in adherence to the truth as he knows it, which is extremely good.  To see this viciously childish reaction to Glenn in many quarters where I consider myself to be among friends has been awful. So many people so totally lost.

      you said it.

      I'm not a huge Greenwald fan, but I like and respect him. The way people are so eager to call him a Bush apologist (!!!) for the flimsiest of reasons around here is really disturbing.

      As the world warms, the reigning ideology that tells us it’s everyone for themselves, that victims deserve their fate, that we can master nature, will take us to a very cold place indeed - Naomi Klein

      by mightymouse on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 04:26:50 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Greenwald is a shoddy dishonest writer (9+ / 0-)

      and his clumsy attempts to disguise his libertarian politics only work on those who are emotionally invested in his political charade already.

      Those of us who do not think Gary Johnson, the champion of child labor, is an interesting and provocative thinker are not so amused.

      favorite band: twisted gloating

      by citizen k on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 05:27:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  "Glenn has been nothing but reasonable (5+ / 0-)

      and totally in adherence to the truth as he knows it, which is extremely good."

      I can't think of anything more reasonable and truthful than saying supporters of the President would cheer him raping nuns on live television.

       

      •  There has been great discussion in this diary (13+ / 0-)

        up until now.

        I was reading comments in a diary yesterday that was written in 2006.  The amount of reasoned adult discussion from both sides of the argument was so refreshing to read.

        I had that same thought reading through the comments here by Bob, DallasDoc, Priceman, David M, Paradox, just to name a few, and then got to the usual -- fill in the blank.

        Sadly, a lot of those members commenting in the 2006 diary no longer participate at DK.    I can certainly understand why.

        We delivered. They failed us. We have moved on. (h/t to my good friend)

        by gooderservice on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 07:50:10 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  He didn't say all supporters of the President (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Marie

        would cheer him raping nuns on live television.

        He said that about a supporter of the President who cheered him blowing children into small bits.

        He said that about a supporter of the President who cheered him funding and arming regimes that routinely use rape as a weapon.

        It really wasn't a stretch.

        Fear is your only God.

        by JesseCW on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 08:17:50 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Top comment (11+ / 0-)

      This really isn't about Ron Paul at all. And everyone on either side of the divide knows this. It's about the policies of Barack Obama and the Democratic Party and the acquiescence of the Left to them. RP was used as a device to show the sheer absurdity of the fact that the only person pushing certain liberal policies is a Republican candidate in the presidential primary. It's about how certain ideas about war and civil liberties are in total exile from the national discourse.

      It's become this ugly little fiasco because many people would rather not deal with it. It's much easier to denounce Ron Paul than to defend indefinite detention.

      Paradoxically, Stoller, Greenwald et all has given them this gift of deflection. And this to me is the problem with people on my side of the divide (I include myself). We are treating this like a debate when this is a hardscrabble fight for the soul of liberalism. In a debate you can win, in this your opponent will NEVER accept or concede defeat because the endpoint isn't to make a better, reason-based argument.

      So on one hand the point made about RP is a devastatingly effective critique about the state of the Democratic Party but on the other hand it plays right into their hands.

      The cave, the Matrix, America.

      by Grassee on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 07:39:21 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ron Paul (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bigrivergal, caul, Remillard
        the fact that the only person pushing certain liberal policies is a Republican candidate in the presidential primary

        is not pushing liberal policies.  He's pushing anti-federalism.  This is no way to advance the argument.  AND it's only going to make ideas like marijuana legalization that much harder to promote when you have a crazy old man pushing them.  What, is Tommy Chong unavailable?

        The left has been criticizing the buildup of the security state and the military for as long as I've been alive.  No one is defending indefinite detention.  

        "Back off, back off, he's got his own dreams that won't come true!"

        by satanicpanic on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 09:05:34 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Which Left? (7+ / 0-)
          The left has been criticizing the buildup of the security state and the military for as long as I've been alive.  No one is defending indefinite detention.

          Noam Chomsky, Chris Hegdes and others maybe. Not who the media considers our main spokespeople. And those are the ones with the biggest microphone.  

          The cave, the Matrix, America.

          by Grassee on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 09:32:48 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Obama himself has proposed (0+ / 0-)

            cuts to the military and issued a signing statement saying he won't indefinitely detain American citizens.  I'm not so naive as to think that he won't indefinitely detain American citizens, but I also don't think it's because of Ron Paul that he feels compelled to say that.  

            "Back off, back off, he's got his own dreams that won't come true!"

            by satanicpanic on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 09:46:58 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  No. (6+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              KJG52, Robobagpiper, pgm 01, Quequeg, JesseCW, Marie

              Obama has proposed somewhat slower growth of military spending.  He has absolutely not proposed cuts.  Don't believe me?  Maybe you'll listen to him:

              Over the next 10 years, the growth in the defense budget will slow, but the fact of the matter is this:  It will still grow, because we have global responsibilities that demand our leadership.  In fact, the defense budget will still be larger than it was toward the end of the Bush administration.

              With all this manure around, there must be a pony in here somewhere. - Count Piotr Vorkosigan

              by jrooth on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 11:17:16 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Oh for crying out loud (0+ / 0-)

                Meteor Blades only yesterday described them as cuts.  Cutting growth, slowing growth... way to miss the point of my post to make some pedantic point about Obama.

                "Back off, back off, he's got his own dreams that won't come true!"

                by satanicpanic on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 11:29:51 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Well, if Meteor Blades said it (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  JesseCW, Marie

                  it couldn't possibly be wrong.  How foolish of me.

                  And if the point of your post wasn't to imply that President Obama is somehow a part of "[t]he left ... criticizing the buildup of the security state and the military" then what was it?  Because I fail to see how one can simultaneously be for that whilst proudly declaring that "the defense budget will still be larger than it was toward the end of the Bush administration."

                  With all this manure around, there must be a pony in here somewhere. - Count Piotr Vorkosigan

                  by jrooth on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 11:42:23 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Obama is compelled (0+ / 0-)

                    to take the positions he has because of people on the left who got him elected, not because of Ron Paul.  One of his main selling points was his opposition to the Iraq War.  I'm not making a point about him personally, I don't know the guy and he could be a big liar for all I know.  Politicians make public statements for a reason and you'd have to ignore a lot of voices to say that the left isn't broadly opposed to war or in favor of civil liberties and that no one on the left is making the case for these.

                    "Back off, back off, he's got his own dreams that won't come true!"

                    by satanicpanic on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 11:52:12 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                •  Wait. When did Meteor Blades start (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Marie

                  running a dictionary?

                  Fear is your only God.

                  by JesseCW on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 09:24:39 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

              •  Actually, as I noted... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                jrooth

                ...Sunday here, the budget for 2013 is expected to contain a small, actual cut. After that, it's upward again at the rate of inflation. So the "cuts" after 2013 are cuts in the rate of increase:

                Draconian? Drastic? Dangerous? With the Korean War truce in place, the 1956 Pentagon budget of Dwight Eisenhower was $380 billion in 2012 dollars. Under Bill Clinton in 1998, the low-point of post Cold War spending, the Pentagon budget was also $380 billion in 2012 dollars. For 2013, however, if what an Office of Management and Budget memo says comes to pass, the administration will seek $523 billion for the Pentagon. That's $7 billion less than what the Senate-House conference committee approved for 2012. The budget would then be allowed to increase with inflation until 2017. The impact? That oh-so-scary cut would reduce inflation-adjusted Pentagon spending all the way back to what it was in ... 2007.  

                Not exactly the end of empire. [...]

                It shouldn't be forgotten that the Obama administration, while winding down the costs of the Iraq war, sought in its early budgets to increase core Pentagon spending in real terms even higher than it had been under George W. Bush. The modest cuts now being proposed quite likely would not have seen the light of day had the economy not plunged so far and deficits expanded so much. Be that as it may, the administration has done something we haven't seen for more than a decade, introduced a pause in the expansion of Pentagon spending. As noted, it is taking heavy flak for that and will continue to do so right up until November 6. We'll be hearing a lot of "weak on defense" from whomever gets the nomination and all his SuperPacs.

                The surest way to predict the future is to invent it. — Stephen Post. [Me at Twitter.]

                by Meteor Blades on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 10:23:40 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

        •  Huh?? (7+ / 0-)

          No one is defending indefinite detention.

          I think you need to examine the policies of the current administration a little more closely.

          With all this manure around, there must be a pony in here somewhere. - Count Piotr Vorkosigan

          by jrooth on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 11:13:03 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  The administration isn't trying to defend (0+ / 0-)

            it, which is an entirely different question than whether or not they are pursuing it as policy.  If the purpose of having RP running for president is to have Obama say "I will not indefinitely detain people" then great, Ron Paul has succeeded and certain people allegedly on the left can stop touting him because Obama is already saying that.  If you want Obama to not actually detain people*, then you're going to need something more powerful than Ron Paul.  

            *I haven't seen any information saying that he is indefinitely detaining people, but if he were then clearly Ron Paul and Republican debates aren't stopping him.    

            "Back off, back off, he's got his own dreams that won't come true!"

            by satanicpanic on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 11:45:05 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  He hasn't said that. (0+ / 0-)

              He's said the opposite, many times.  He continually asserts the power to detain people indefinitely without charge.  He has (successfully) fought to exempt Bagram prison from habeas review.  I could go on for a long time .... how you can claim he has done the opposite baffles me.  If laying down an official policy of indefinite detainment, fighting for it in court and practicing it doesn't amount to defending it I don't know what does.

              And please name the prominent political figure in the Democratic Party who is raising these issues in the public discourse.  I'd love to have someone besides Ron Paul to point to, because frankly I find the man repellent and his overall philosophy grossly naive.

              With all this manure around, there must be a pony in here somewhere. - Count Piotr Vorkosigan

              by jrooth on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 12:29:30 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  there is (0+ / 0-)

                Rocky Anderson but were not allowed to y'all about him either.  

                I will not send money to, work for, or vote for, any candidate whose behavior benefits the 1% over the 99%. Work for my vote, money and time, or lose it. Not the other way around.

                by Nada Lemming on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 08:12:25 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

    •  Well said--- (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      KJG52

      Though, I think the tribalistic response to Greenwald is mostly rooted in Greenwald's seemingly unending desire to pick a fight...

      True - he doesn't go nearly as far as Stoller in slapping around the almost satirical "everybody should know and agree with this" nonsense, but he does sometimes glide over key points that are, I think, debatable.   Ordinarily, I'd say that's born out of a desire to get to the point... but then, Greenwald often meanders in his writing and frankly, I think it's more a matter of the litigator in him knowing when to pound the facts and when to pound the table.

      I guess you did say truth as he knows it, and again, I'm not defending the sometimes broadsides against Greenwald (I'll bet I've delivered a few of my own) -- but to some extent, the difference (in this particular argument) between Stoller and Greenwald is that Stoller makes a point of rolling his eyes at anyone that disagrees whereas Greenwald is better at keeping his eye rolling hidden.

      Full Disclosure: I am an unpaid shill for every paranoid delusion that lurks under your bed - but more than willing to cash any checks sent my way

      by zonk on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 09:18:19 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'd think that with respect to the ... (0+ / 0-)

      ... remark:

      ... Never heard the correlation of liberals supporting American finance for simultaneous warfare and social safety nets? ...

      ... that the purging of New Dealers opposed to cold war liberalism could be read either as the Liberals throwing their former allies under the bus as no longer needed, or as Liberals ducking for cover and breathing a sigh of relief that they were not next ...

      ... but if you read the American Institutionalist foundations of Job Guarantee policy and the abandonment of the Job Guarantee full employment program under the (ultimately failed) post WWII Samulesonian hydraulic pseudo-Keynesian economic vision of full employment through government fiscal stimulus alone ...

      ... its clear that those liberals who supported both the simultaneous warfare and social safety nets were the winners of the policy fight inside the New Deal coalition after WWII.

      Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

      by BruceMcF on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 12:41:14 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  This Is One Hell Of A Rabbit Hole (8+ / 0-)

    So Matt Stoller cooperated with Paul on a few bills while working with Grayson and we have to endure this? I take Paul a la carte. I accept substitutions. If I chose vegetable soup rather than the salad I am not going to get into a discussion with some raw foods purist that I should question my vegetarian basics. I probably should be questioning why I am in a place that asks the soup or salad question.

  •  asdf... (12+ / 0-)

    Photobucket

    The only good thing about this argument is that nobody on the wingnut side will understand enough to attack us.

    Small blessings.

    'If you want to be a hero, well just follow me.' - J. Lennon

    by Clive all hat no horse Rodeo on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 04:40:38 AM PST

  •  thereisnospoon has a response worth reading (21+ / 0-)

    here:

    But it's the last charge that is most preposterous.

    There is no sense in which attacks on President Obama are a threat to liberalism. I have been a very frequent of the Obama Administration myself, and (commenters here notwithstanding) in most left-leaning circles have been characterized a frequent critic of the Administration, not a defender. A google search of references to my posts here turn up more critics of my work from Administration defenders lumping me in with Greenwald and Hamsher, than the other way around.

    The problem with the Obama Administration has always been that it is not doing enough to implement a social contract that will prevent economic exploitation, bound by rule of law and the implied threat of force to enforce it. Rather than embodying liberalism in his persona, it is the Obama Administration's failure in many cases to implement a liberal agenda that is the problem.

    Where the President himself has aided and abetted breaking the rule of law and creating a more unaccountable Executive Branch with increased power, that's a bad thing and those critiques are also accurate. One can argue the particulars of the NDAA and question whether a Presidential veto would actually have resulted in less damaging legislation or not (I think Congress would have overridden his veto in both chambers.) One can argue whether the President should have responded to Congress's refusal to try to Gitmo detainees on U.S. soil by simply releasing every prisoner (probably a bad idea.) One can argue whether the President should have risked sending a SEAL team into Yemen to capture Al-Awlaki as opposed to others like him, simply because he happened to have been born in the U.S. (Constitutionally required, but showing the fraying limits of the nation-state model.) One can argue whether the situation in Libya rose the moral level of potential genocide required to justify military intervention. But the collective weight of the President's actions on these matters have left him open to very valid criticism from civil libertarians. These critiques are also not a threat to liberalism, which seeks to constrain the limits of absolute power. They are a benefit to liberalism.

    As the world warms, the reigning ideology that tells us it’s everyone for themselves, that victims deserve their fate, that we can master nature, will take us to a very cold place indeed - Naomi Klein

    by mightymouse on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 04:47:24 AM PST

    •  Notice that thereisnospoon (16+ / 0-)

      manges to make his points without
      a) Referencing Ron Paul as a useful foil, or
      b) Using hyperbolic vitriol about President Obama "slaughtering" Muslim children. (A construct that would make every wartime American president in history a baby-killer).

      Greenwald, on the other hand, chooses to inflame, and then cries foul when he is met with opposition from "the lowest element". He reaps what he sows.

      •  Meanwhile, (9+ / 0-)

        anyone who pushes back cues up another round of mewling about the "insults" that Greenwald must endure, as if he doesn't give as good as he gets.  

      •  Greenwald's not a Bush apologist (15+ / 0-)

        My biggest beef in all this has been the relentless drive to frame Greenwald in that manner.

        He does like to make his case with gusto. Sometimes he uses over-the-top rhetoric.

        Criticize him for that all you want. However his basic arguments are often sound. And it's good valuable to have someone focusing on civil liberties and the "war on terror" as he does. With all this brouhaha, I've been reading his site more, and there is good stuff. Most recently, links to NYT Op-eds from prisoners released for Guantanamo - one after seven years.

        And I don't get the problem with referencing Ron Paul. He's in the news now. He'll be gone pretty soon. That is a silly complaint imo.

        People here reference GOP candidates. Yesterday the FP references the other GOPs calling out Romney.

        As the world warms, the reigning ideology that tells us it’s everyone for themselves, that victims deserve their fate, that we can master nature, will take us to a very cold place indeed - Naomi Klein

        by mightymouse on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 06:00:25 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Exactly! What does Ron Paul... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cedwyn, caul, virginislandsguy

        ...have to do with any of this? You can be a critic of the President. But those critiques are liberal critiques. They have nothing to do with Ron Paul. Ron Paul is just some guy who is popular with a few liberal kids because he hasn't been attacked from the left during his entire career (until recently).

        Again: what the fuck does Ron Paul have to do with anything?

        LOOK IT! I WROTE A COMMENT ON BIG ORANGE SEXY TIME!!!!

        by Mark Warner is God on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 07:49:25 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  So you prefer the slaughtering of Muslim (11+ / 0-)

        children be talked about more...sensitively?

        Or is it just when President Obama is giving the orders?

        See, cause I remember around here the slaughter of Muslim children was often described exactly as "slaughtering Muslim children" when Bush was doing it.

        Just wondering.

        •  I prefer less hyperbole (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          gramofsam1, naperken

          Using the same gauge as GG, there hasn't been a President in history that hasn't been slaughtering children.

          They happened to be Native American children up until about 1900 or so, then we give them different nationalities during different Presidencies since...  sometimes they were Central American children, sometimes they were South American children, sometimes they were Japanese and German children (or French/Dutch/etc), sometimes they were Asian children.

          I reject the construct because if I didn't, then there is no other morally correct action than to destroy this and all governments... and I'm not interested in doing that.

          Full Disclosure: I am an unpaid shill for every paranoid delusion that lurks under your bed - but more than willing to cash any checks sent my way

          by zonk on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 09:27:16 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Perhaps I missed it ... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            hester

            When did Jimmy Carter slaughter any children?

            With all this manure around, there must be a pony in here somewhere. - Count Piotr Vorkosigan

            by jrooth on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 11:23:13 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  If memory serves (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              gramofsam1, Quequeg

              it was Carter's CIA, not Reagan's that first began funneling money into Afghanistan... In fact, if you like to believe Zbigniew Brzezinski, as many on the left nowadays love to -- the US began arming the Mujihadeen before the Soviet invasion.

              And hell -- the saber rattling over Hormuz to say nothing of tangential relation to every other US action in the Persian Gulf?  It was the Carter Doctrine that point blank said that the US would use military action to defend its national interests in the Persian Gulf.

              Believe it or not - Jimmy Carter wasn't building houses for the poor in 1977-1981 - he was faced with many of the same difficult foreign policy choices every President is faced with.

              Full Disclosure: I am an unpaid shill for every paranoid delusion that lurks under your bed - but more than willing to cash any checks sent my way

              by zonk on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 11:59:01 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Your memory serves you well. (0+ / 0-)

                And many Muslim children died in the Soviet-Afghan war.  

                •  Indeed they did. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Quequeg

                  But did any of them die as a result of President Carter's actions?  That's not at all clear to me.

                  With all this manure around, there must be a pony in here somewhere. - Count Piotr Vorkosigan

                  by jrooth on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 12:41:07 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Well in my opinion, any time (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Quequeg

                    that a president sets a war in motion, he does so knowing full well that civilian deaths will result, including the deaths of children.  No war has spared them.
                    It's always a matter of weighing those deaths against whatever he might perceive to be the greater good.
                    I cannot imagine being the person responsible for making those decisions.  And I have to believe that the people who make the decisions are burdened with the knowledge of those deaths- even George Bush.

                    •  Fair enough. (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      gramofsam1

                      I think a good case can be made for both my narrower interpretation and your broader one.  And by your criteria, Carter does indeed bear some responsibility for the civilian deaths that resulted from the Mujaheddin war against the Soviets.

                      With all this manure around, there must be a pony in here somewhere. - Count Piotr Vorkosigan

                      by jrooth on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 01:09:57 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

              •  Well ... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Pescadero Bill

                I hadn't forgotten about Zbig's authorship of the support for the Mujahedeen (and I certainly never supported that policy).  But while it's certainly possible I missed some example of that relatively limited support resulting in civilian deaths during Carter's presidency, I'm not aware of any specific example.  By contrast, there are many, many specific examples of such deaths from our ongoing covert and overt wars.

                And as for saber rattling, again I'm not aware of any specific example of children or other civilians dying as a direct result.

                With all this manure around, there must be a pony in here somewhere. - Count Piotr Vorkosigan

                by jrooth on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 12:38:49 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

        •  What I would "prefer" (0+ / 0-)

          is that we leave Afghanistan.  What I would have preferred even more was that we had never gone there in the first place.  So feel free to apply any and all pressure to the Obama administration to withdraw our troops as expeditiously as possible.

          However, I am not a pacifist in the absolutist sense.  Neither, to my knowledge, is Greenwald.  He was willing to give Bush the "benefit of the doubt" about Iraq when he believed our security was at risk, despite the obvious consequence of the deaths of Muslim children. Which is why I find his language about Obama slaughtering children to be a bit disingenuous, and more than a bit needlessly inflammatory.

        •  "Enhanced Muslim Child Mortality" nt (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Pescadero Bill, BradyB

          “In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.” Terry Pratchett

          by 420 forever on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 11:08:37 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Fascinating (11+ / 0-)

    This Ron Paul controversy -- for what it is -- has become like a blank screen on which we can all project our aims and anxieties.

    "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

    by bink on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 04:52:25 AM PST

  •  I think the Adkins guy, (9+ / 0-)

    [if he is the one trying to explain liberalism as interventionism], has confused liberalism with police power. I also don't think neoliberalism as it applies to monetary policy should be conflated with the classic definition of liberal policies per se.

    I do not agree with his poorly founded screed. There isn't any reason to pick apart what issues from anyone with ad hominems, unless you are really close and have been at the blog wars for a time, and revel in it. BTDT

    I think the main difference is that conservatives want to keep what they have [and garner more as much as they can], while liberals realize that everything goes in cycles and they seek to maintain some sort of equilibrium.

    Lately the difference has been that the conservatives have been proactive in trying to scarf everything. The liberals are reactive, waiting for a problem and then they try and go fix it. Conservatives' hair is always on fire about things that aren't problems [like voter fraud, and gay marriage and abortion, moosleems being terriers, yada yada yada. They're probably really not concerned with these things, they act like they are so they can get elected and do their money laundering through wars.......actual wars, drug wars, sex wars, pharma wars......they create the catastrophe and then proceed to sell to all factions with proceeds from the treasury, to benefit their small club.

    The cons keep going to the well. In this last round they used most all of it for their private lagoons and the rest of us are out here dying of thirst. They should have been more pragmatic. At some point the money spent trying to scarf too much would have been better spent just keeping the system primed and going undetected.

    Or maybe they know what's up. Peak oil, climate change, etc., and want to take us all to the cleaners so they can have prime beachfront property on Anarctica. At any rate, they certainly are in it for themselves.

    •  Bingo. After all, liberals and conservatives alike (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      exlrrp

      believe in intervention - they differ as to where and why. Conservatives are all about intervention to maintain social, religious, and moral systems of which they approve.

      Non enim propter gloriam, diuicias aut honores pugnamus set propter libertatem solummodo quam Nemo bonus nisi simul cum vita amittit. -Declaration of Arbroath

      by Robobagpiper on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 05:30:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I disagree - I think his point is perfeclty valid (0+ / 0-)

      You're assuming there's universal agreement on the definitions of a "problem" -- and that's just impossible in all but the most extreme cases... and this before we even start talking about the solutions.

      Full Disclosure: I am an unpaid shill for every paranoid delusion that lurks under your bed - but more than willing to cash any checks sent my way

      by zonk on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 09:31:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think the problems are pretty obvious. (0+ / 0-)

        The approach to getting things back on track are not.

        Take the economy. At no point in prior history have we been able to model as effectively what works and what does not. Yet the Republicans insist we should have more of what got us here because they are entitled to it under the law.

        The Republicans insist that global warming/climate change is a hoax even when they know it isn't. They insist because they have made investments in the present system and the rest of us should have to bear the brunt while they get every last cent out of their sunk costs out. I'm sure they're busy in the background figuring out how to best profit on the fallout but for now, the unwashed masses can just keep quiet while they go about counting their money.

  •  Facepalm this sentence. (23+ / 0-)
    But Paul, by criticizing American empire explicitly and its financing channels in the form of the Federal Reserve, also enrages liberals by forcing them to acknowledge that their political economy no longer produces liberal ends.

    No, he does not.  What annoys (not 'enrages' or other hyperbole such as 'hysteria') is that an idiot such as Paul is trotted out when such points are made.

    The rest of that sentence is perfectly fine on its own.
    There simply is no reason to bring someone so slimy into the conversation.

    What really happened is that a bunch of people who generally do good work, decided to bring Paul in in a sort of 'academic completeness' sense - Paul is also talking about these issues, therefore we must include Paul while talking about them to show that we are on top of all facets of the topic.

    Then, when rightly criticized for bringing Paul into the mix, they all got defensive and dug their heels in to defend their mentions of him, despite the fact that he is totally incidental to the topics at hand, which are far more important than he is.

    So if we can just quit defending bringing Paul in, then maybe we can get back to focusing on the aisle-spanning problems of support of the MIC and eternal hostilities.

    •  Ron Paul and his supporters should STFU (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Matt Z, fcvaguy, foufou, satanicpanic

      Isolationism and noninterventionism of the Paulite variety are racist and antisemitic at their core.  Scratch the surface and you'll see these racist assholes argue that the United States should not have intervened in WW2.

      Ron Paul has called our closest ally, Israel, an apartheid state.

      Here is how progressive values can be spread around the world with a reasonable President leading America:

      http://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/...

      Obama and United Nations join push for gay rights in Africa

      Isn't that a worthy goal?

      •  But It's Not That Simple (6+ / 0-)

        Ron Paul is a toad.

        But our interventionist foreign policy is expensive and a failure. Isolationism is, of course, impossible. (It was impossible even in the earliest years of our nation.) But we've gone too far and done too much and have had a series of hard failures when it comes to foreign wars. We need to learn from this.

        As far as Israel goes, it is certainly not our closest ally, though it is one of seven countries in the Middle East with which the U.S. considers itself aligned. (The list includes Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.) Ron Paul isn't obligated to have any special affinity for any one foreign country in order to be a credible political candidate.

        I think he probably is an anti-Semite, though.

        "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

        by bink on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 05:45:17 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Israel IS an apartheid state. (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        PhilK, pgm 01, BradyB, Marie

        Seriously, you don't get that?

        I swear to god, ANYBODY can call themselves progressive these days.

        The bourgeoisie had better watch out for me, all throughout this so called nation. We don't want your filthy money, we don't need your innocent bloodshed, we just want to end your world. ~H.R.

        by chipmo on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 09:57:47 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yup. Many people seem to believe that (0+ / 0-)

          simply because they are not in the conservative movement, they are progressive.  You can call yourself anything you want, it doesn't make it so.  I would caution about calling Israel an apartheid state inside of diary that has to do with the Ron Paul meta wars, I fear it may create a black hole of meta wars that will consume everything. :D

      •  I think getting our President to stop (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Marie

        claiming God doesn't want gay people to get married is worthy goal.

        But that's me.

        Fear is your only God.

        by JesseCW on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 09:30:55 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  serendipity (21+ / 0-)

    i checked in to dkos this am specifically to check if bobswern had written a diary recently. And happily he posted one this morning. What qualifies as a rec list around here since election season began and we needed to get "serious", is a bore. Much cheering, little substance. Thank you Bob for coming and writing a thought provoking diary - I have some reading to catch up on.

  •  Money Talks, Shit Walks & 'Liberals' Jerk Off Over (8+ / 0-)

    Tomes Of Truth, esteeming the status and lifestyle of the Teddy Whites and David Halberstam and Walter Cronkite ... policy seers -

    The doers who make shit work are irrelevant technicians - those drone engineers and accountants and biochemists and programmers and farmers and machinists and agriculturalists and mechanics and technologists -

    MOST of the country esteems doers who make lots of money on NBA courts or NFL fields or corporate raiding or singing on stage - liberals esteem the Tome of Truth creators.

    Ron Paul, in all his fucking lunacy, offers some insights and ideas which offer an attraction to some people in a time when all the good ideas are shit on and or abandoned by the usual cast of characters -

    The cast of the political incompetents of the Democratic Party who can't do to Mitt, or any other robber baron stooge, what Newt is doing to Mitt - OR - the cast of yuppie fucking sell outs who won't fight for us pee-ons cuz they're ... selling us out!

    So, people are looking around and test riding the kiddie cars or the nut mobiles - what they supposed to do?

    Go back and rah rah and getting fucking sold out again?

    Go back and support some fucking whiny sniveling wimp?

    It doesn't mean they're really gonna buy a kidde car or a nut mobile.

    By the way - when & if the 'liberal' ethic ever evolves to esteeming the doer - the people who MAKE the food and MAKE the bridges and MAKE the steel ... and MAKE effective policy! -

    We might capture some public support outside our echo chambers!

    The opportunity has been there since I was 18 in '78 & Prop 13 came outta California, with that lying fascist fucking lackey Raygun.

    rmm.

    Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous

    by seabos84 on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 05:33:21 AM PST

    •  I was 18 n 1980- (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Marie, seabos84

      Precious stuff sure to give violent vapors to some of the boomers amongst us...

      Ron Paul, in all his fucking lunacy, offers some insights and ideas which offer an attraction to some people in a time when all the good ideas are shit on and or abandoned by the usual cast of characters -

      The cast of the political incompetents of the Democratic Party who can't do to Mitt, or any other robber baron stooge, what Newt is doing to Mitt - OR - the cast of yuppie fucking sell outs who won't fight for us pee-ons cuz they're ... selling us out!

      Evidence that contradicts the ruling belief system is held to extraordinary standards, while evidence that entrenches it is uncritically accepted. -Carl Sagan

      by RF on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 06:33:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  There were/are just as many (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        shaharazade, seabos84, RF

        "don't rock the boat," "my country right or wrong" boomers as there are in your generation, and just as many that have seen through the bs their entire lives.  It's just that the latter group tends to be small and doesn't grow until the status quo tangibly and directly hurts the personal butts of the don't rock the boat folks.  

        One interesting aspect of the Iraq War was the number of men that opposed the Vietnam War when their number could be called but supported the venal Bush/Cheney in their desire for war.    

        •  Ah, no- (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Marie

          Boomers are directly proportionally responsible for the cognitive dissonance plague the United States has had to endure...  It is burned into their (your?) archetype-

          The sooner boomers realize their hyppo v the sixties betwixt now, the better off they and their fellow Americans will be-

          Don't argue with Nomads like me; read the Fourth Turning or Generations by StraussHowe and you will learn why boomers aka "prophets" own narcissism and

          enforce a confrontational ethic of moral conviction
          the facts, or their past actions at Woodstock be damned....

          :♥)

          Evidence that contradicts the ruling belief system is held to extraordinary standards, while evidence that entrenches it is uncritically accepted. -Carl Sagan

          by RF on Wed Jan 11, 2012 at 05:49:55 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Ah, Yes- (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Marie
          It's just that the latter group tends to be small and doesn't grow until the status quo tangibly and directly hurts the personal butts of the don't rock the boat folks.  

          Re-read your comment and quite possibly I read it wrong at first-  Please write more, or I could re-read again soon and convey why upon first read I wrote the "Ah, no" response...

          Knee-Jerk, Nomad, X generation, sick of being blamed for everything by my older brothers and sisters response; I suppose-

          Either that or a Boomer has never said things like

          It's just that the latter group tends to be small and doesn't grow until the status quo tangibly and directly hurts the personal butts of the don't rock the boat folks.
          to me; or your not a Boomer gen archetype-

          Evidence that contradicts the ruling belief system is held to extraordinary standards, while evidence that entrenches it is uncritically accepted. -Carl Sagan

          by RF on Wed Jan 11, 2012 at 06:07:56 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  My comment was phrased awkwardly. (0+ / 0-)

            Only intended a reminder that Boomers weren't significantly different from the generations that came before and after.  It's also easy to forget that the voices that we've come to associate with the sixties and boomers weren't boomers at all.  They and their fellow travelers amongst the early boomer generation haven't changed much of the decades.  It's only that our proportion of the population was and is small.  

    •  Very astutue comment. Would add that (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shaharazade, seabos84, RF

      the young also see the insanity of and wasted billions of dollars on our drug wars that have been on-going since the end of Prohibition, but were considerably ramped up in the 1960s.

      btw -- Prop 13 came along four years after Reagan was out of office.  It was sold as brilliantly as the deregulation of S&Ls a few years later.  And the poor schlubs still haven't figured out what went wrong.

  •  Paul's policies would be a disaster (4+ / 0-)

    To argue:

    The basic thesis was that the same financing structures that are used to finance mass industrial warfare were used to create a liberal national economy and social safety.

    is not to prove that blowing up all aspects of modern finance - essentially what Paul would like to do - is a great policy prescription.  

    The Federal Reserve/financial regulatory system we had in place until the late 1990s provided a framework that enabled  prosperity for a huge group of Americans.  The recent exploitation of that system by an out-of-control finance sector does not mean that we could never return to a paradigm where banks function more like utilities - matching savers and borrowers to finance new ventures - via markets and institutions where financial barons do not extract obscene wealth "off-the-top", and private equity armies do not leave a trail of destruction in their wake.

    I think at root, Paulism is about enabling a modern day Jefferson Davis to live the life he would choose.  The notion of freedom is appealing, but there is a clear presupposition about how the social order really ought to be (also reflected in Paul's enthusiasm about restricting women's rights).  

    Paul has no real problem with Romney's career of pillage.  He just thinks Romney should have had to pillage the old fashioned way - in a nice simple system dominated by the gold standard, where an identifiable claque of white guys in simple industries - mining, railroads, manufacturing - could control all the cartels.

    Paul's real beef is that modern-day reactionaries can't reject the demands of laws put in place by progressives (from workplace safety to Medicaid to progressive taxation).  His main arguments against imperialism seem to be that it requires modern-day American reactionaries to pay too much in taxes, and that interventions seem too often to be aimed at overseas reactionaries, who also should enjoy their "freedoms."

    He is a great exemplar of the proposition that the enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend.

    2010: An Unforced Error Odyssey

    by Minerva on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 05:40:51 AM PST

    •  It really seems like the original Stoller article (0+ / 0-)

      was making the case that there is something unredeemable about the very centralization of government that brought us the end of slavery, the consolidation of the postwar middle class, and the establishment of Medicare and social security. That because the liberalism that brought these policies to fruition were unseemly bedfellows with the national security state, that liberalism is somehow completely tainted.

      I'm just not sure what the alternative would have been. If we had adhered to this avowedly libertarian principle that any intervention, no matter how benign, is itself a reflection of tyranny, then we would all be living in the crazy dystopian utopia of the Paulite's dreams: a country in which people with power deny those without power a seat at the table, on the pretext that their demands are an unacceptable encroachment on personal liberty.

      I can only follow this libertarian critique of Empire so far. If we want to acknowledge that the postwar boom and the liberal consensus was built on the backs of a war state, and that we need to revisit certain aspects of that consolidation of power (ie. the military-industrial complex), I'm willing to have that discussion. But to imply -- as Stoller et al. seem to -- that the very existence of a strong federal government is itself the problem, and that its tendency towards imperial overreach is an inexorable consequence of its centralization of control, well... I can't go there. If we as progressives are opposed to a federal government, then what the heck are we doing here?

      Nothing requires a greater effort of thought than arguments to justify the rule of non-thought. -- Milan Kundera

      by Dale on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 09:28:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  BTW, *other than* the mentions (6+ / 0-)

    of Paul, I do agree with much of the rest of this diary, although I do think it is in our interests to try to demand ala carte government.  Only by accepting certain parts and rejecting others can we change the accepted paradigm.  We all have overlapping worldviews, and what appears to be a centerless 'hodgepodge' of views to one person may simply be a gestalt that from another angle makes more sense.

  •  rut roh bob (6+ / 0-)

    Thanks for posting the inconvenient truths, via Yves, about the modern big D democrats.

    But this is going to get ugly.

    tipped and rec-d despite the use of the evil P word :)

    You want my ideas on improving education? Whatever Arne Duncan proposes, do the opposite.

    by Indiana Bob on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 06:37:47 AM PST

  •  Naked copy and pasting (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Escamillo

    You got permission to repost the whole thing. Super.

    But if I want to read Naked Capitalism, I'll go to Naked Capitalism, kthnxbai.

    Progressivism, like conservatism, cannot fail. It can only be failed.

    by tomjones on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 06:39:38 AM PST

  •  I Don't Understand the Hubub (8+ / 0-)

    Matt Stoller is offering a standard radical critique of liberalism.  Alex Cockburn and Jeff St. Clair have been doing this for decades.  More than thirty years ago in his ovular, "The Fiscal Crisis of the State," James O'Connor laid out most of what Matt is saying today.  In the chapter on the "Welfare-Warfare" state, O'Connor even described the kind of fissures and crack up of the Cold War liberal "coalition."

    And in the mid-Sixties, Phil Ochs sang:

    I read the New Republic and Nation
    I've learned to take all points of view.
    I've memorized Lerner and Golden,
    I feel like I'm almost a Jew.
    But when it comes to Korea,
    There's no one more red white and blue.
    So love me love me love me
    I'm a liberal.

    The contradictions Marx described so many years ago are intensifying as the normal return on the rate of investment falls, cranking up repression and even more exploitation, which causes an even more skewed-to-the rich economy, which intensifies the crisis of demand, which causes the normal rate of return to fall even further.  

    To resolve these contradictions, capitalists as a class will have to be defeated.  At the very least that means shearing them of all power and driving them to the margins of society.  The challenge will be to preserve democracy.

    Revolution in our lifetime.

    This aggression will not stand, man.

    by kaleidescope on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 06:57:20 AM PST

  •  So has Yves Smith ever apologized... (6+ / 0-)

    for attacking Elizabeth Warren as a warmonger who wants to start a "war with Iran"?  And if we're going to play the guilt by association game of people who comment on that site, how about this gem?

    Try this: http://www.counterpunch.org/...

    IMO, from the counterpunch piece and elsewhere, Bernie Sander (sic) is a poseur, a Senate house pet run out to create a plausible distraction.

    Funny thing, that commenter wasn't immediately rebuked or chastised by the rest of the community.  Seems they were quite OK with what he said.


    But without getting into a long academic discussion on what liberalism is, I raised a point I thought Greenwald was missing in that infamous piece he wrote that spawned all this online ink being spilled.  Sigh... I'll say it again.

    The other thing is that Greenwald claims to know what's in the mind of a progressive that's rejected Ron Paul already.  It's not about one issue with me, but the totality of it all, because frequently we're really choosing between the lesser of two evils, like it or not.  He can't seem to understand that many of us have already played out that scenario in our minds, and come to the conclusion that Paul would be magnitudes worse than Obama as President.  It's got nothing to do with holding up any sort of mirror or some battle for the soul of the Democratic Party.

    He says liberals are afraid to "face" the unsavory civil liberties aspects of the Obama administration??  Yeah, that shows he has very little knowledge of just how much online ink was spilled writing about the NDAA the last couple weeks on liberal, progressive, Democratic blogs criticizing/questioning/blasting the administration for it.  I mean, did he even glance at DailyKos in December at all??

    Greenwald wrote:

    The premise here — the game that’s being played — is that if you can identify some heinous views that a certain candidate holds, then it means they are beyond the pale, that no Decent Person should even consider praising any part of their candidacy.

    See, he just committed a logical fallacy there.  It does NOT mean you can't praise part of their candidacy in the least.  I am just as free to criticize Obama on some issues as I am to praise Ron Paul on some other issues, even as I will freely admit I would be 100% for Obama in an election matchup against Ron Paul.  Such as, in last night's debate, Ron Paul's talk of the racial disparity in the drug war was great to hear at a presidential debate.  Though at the same time, he brought it up only in response to those racist newsletters in an effort to dodge the newsletters themselves.  (See?  I can't possibly be racist because I recognize the inherent racism in the drug war!)

    Will you at least agree that Greenwald committed a logical fallacy there?

    •  Crickets.... nt (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      foufou
    •  Sorry, not seeing it (5+ / 0-)

      In the excerpt you quoted, Greenwald seems to be saying that what's at work is a variant of argument ad hominem.  That is, since Ron Paul holds a lot of indisputably repugnant views, then no decent person can even consider praising any part of Paul's candidacy, even on other issues.  Like argument ad hominem, the attack is on Ron Paul and not on his arguments regarding the issues in question.  In Greenwald's Salon piece, he argues that we ought to be happy that a newsmaker like Paul is bringing certain issues into the media discussion in this campaign, because otherwise they wouldn't be talked about at all.  At the same time, he bent over backwards to make clear that he was in no way endorsing Ron Paul.

      As I read your response, you seem to agree that one should be able to praise Ron Paul on some issues, while at the same time rejecting his candidacy overall and condemning his other views.  So it's unclear to me how you actually disagree with Greenwald.  You wouldn't dream of supporting Paul, and I don't think Greenwald would either.  

      In short, Greenwald's "praise" of Paul is extremely limited in nature -- Paul is a vehicle for bringing attention to certain issues that might otherwise be ignored because all of the other candidates basically agree on them.  This doesn't mean Greenwald endorses Paul.  It just means that he is pleased to see Paul's candidacy raising certain issues (American intervention in Afghanistan, the war on drugs) that probably would not be talked about at all if Paul weren't in the race.

      "Ça c'est une chanson que j'aurais vraiment aimé ne pas avoir écrite." -- Barbara

      by FogCityJohn on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 09:55:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Because... (0+ / 0-)
        That is, since Ron Paul holds a lot of indisputably repugnant views, then no decent person can even consider praising any part of Paul's candidacy, even on other issues.

        Greenwald then ascribes this motivation to all of us on the progressive side who have soundly rejected Paul's candidacy already.  A couple people may hold that (wrong) view, but it's a strawman argument that ignores a whole bunch of us who approach it from a different angle.

        And again, I'll say the problem with the binary system of elections we have in this country is that by doing so repeatedly, whether consciously or not, he's helping the Paul campaign.  Most people aren't going to see "Greenwald supports Ron Paul's position on drone strikes and a few others, but rejects his position on most other issues".  They're just going to see "Greenwald supports Ron Paul".

        •  Binary implies (0+ / 0-)

          that you have two. They seem to have overrode the bi in our choice and just given us the a baited route through the maze, that is anything but binary. People are more complex then this and really can see that the choice is not for or against when after having made this choice they ended up with the same piece of moldy cheese they did not choose.  

        •  Your criticism is misdirected, I'm afraid (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jrooth, JesseCW

          Taking your second paragraph first, you appear to be attacking Greenwald for two things that are not his fault and over which he has little control.  First, our "binary system of elections" was not created by Glenn Greenwald.  Second, you blame Greenwald not so much for what he actually writes, but rather for the distorted way in which it is interpreted by "[m]ost people."  The first of these two points should be obvious, so I don't think it requires discussion.  

          The second is exactly what Greenwald himself is complaining about.  He has expressed his dismay and consternation over the fact that, to paraphrase him, when one says, "I see merit in Candidate X's position on Y," people wrongly interpret that as meaning, "I endorse Candidate X for all purposes."  I would hope that, at least on this site, people could "do nuance."  Greenwald's saying that Ron Paul has raised a valid point about, say, the war on drugs, does not mean that Greenwald has endorsed Ron Paul.  Claiming that it does is disingenuous at best and a deliberate misrepresentation at worst.

          On your first paragraph, I simply don't read Greenwald the way you do.  I don't think he has ascribed that motivation to all people on the progressive side who have rejected Paul's candidacy.  And as you admit, he is accurate about at least "[a] couple people."

          I understand that many people dislike Greenwald intensely.  He has been a persistent (and often acerbic) critic of this administration, and that has won him no friends among establishment Democrats.  But like anyone else, I think he deserves to be judged based upon the merits and accuracy of his arguments.  While many have attacked him for his criticism of the administration, I see very little factual disagreement with the points he makes about things like surveillance and torture policy.  

          Greenwald has done nothing more than ask the president's supporters to acknowledge that they are supporting a candidate who doesn't have a particularly good record on civil liberties issues, among other things.  He admits that one can make an entirely valid argument for why supporting President Obama makes sense given the available alternatives.  He simply insists that the argument be made with one's eyes wide open to the reality of what's going on.

          "Ça c'est une chanson que j'aurais vraiment aimé ne pas avoir écrite." -- Barbara

          by FogCityJohn on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 12:39:38 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  So, by supporting Obama on renewable (0+ / 0-)

          energy and unemployment extensions, you're helping to make sure that indefinite detention remains the law of the land and that reckless drone strikes keep killing civilians.

          You're helping to maintain the drug war and to lock up literally hundreds of thousands of completely nonviolent "offenders", subjecting them to rape and torture.

          You're helping to keep arms and cash flowing to the new Junta in Egypt, and the old dictatorships in Bahrain and Yemen.  You're supporting the use of rape as weapon to supress dissent.

          Do you really want to play this game?  Are you really this blind?

          Fear is your only God.

          by JesseCW on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 09:40:19 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  As I commented over at Naked Capitalism, (8+ / 0-)

    (but here I will add a few more observations tomy comment there last evening):

    I think the crucial sentence to examine is at the end: “As the New Deal era model sheds the last trappings of anything resembling social justice or equity for what used to be called the middle class.”

    First, I am not sure how Stoller defines “the New Deal era model,” other than a general sense that he thinks it depends on military Keynesianism and what we might call automotive Keynesianism.

    Now, there is no doubt that the U.S., since the New Deal, has evolved a weirdly mutated form of political economy in which military Keynesianism is the closest thing we get to an a coherent industrial policy. But I question whether that was an inevitable result of “the New Deal era model.” A number of other forces are at work that Stoller does not mention, but of which he is fully aware. First, of course, if the process of financialization. Since financialization by its nature imposes a predatory burden on the real economy (think Rmoney and Bain Capital, or Kohlberg Kravis and Roberts, to go back much further than the most infamous vampire squid of the moment), military Keynesianism assumes an out-sized role in subsidizing the increasingly marginal existence of the real economy. Without financialization, I think it might have been possible for other sectors of the real economy to grow healthily by meeting the challenges we face of peak oil and climate change. But if building wind turbines or solar arrays gives you only a five or six percent ROI, while credit default swaps or trading forex derivatives gives you a 20 or 30 percent ROI, where do you think hedge funds are going to direct their money?

    Other factors that Stoller omits in his analysis here are the death of Roosevelt. What I am thinking of here is Roosevelt’s famous plan for what amounted to an economic Bill of Rights, which pretty much died with him. Also significant, and hardly known today, is Roosevelt’s confrontation with Churchill over the fate of the British Empire’s colonial possessions. Roosevelt’s son Elliott captured in his memoirs the confrontation at Casablanca, and Elliot’s account indicates that Roosevelt fully intended to force the British to allow heavy industrial development to occur in Africa and Asia beginning immediately after the cessation of hostilities. Such a policy, which also died with Roosevelt, would have brought forward the date of peak oil, but it is likely – at least I think it is likely – that an entirely different set of elites would have been in charge, elites more attuned to the realities of modern industrial societies, and more willing to devote resources to the solving of major problems that arose, such as peak oil.

    Along these lines, I would also note the impact of the assassination of John Kennedy. I think many Americans lost almost all faith in the political system delivering justice, especially after the further assassinations of Bobby Kennedy, ML King Jr., Malcolm X, and others.

    Finally, Stoller’s analysis here leaves out the incessant efforts of wrong-wingers to roll back the New Deal. My view is that those incessant efforts have more to do with any collapse of a “New Deal era model” than liberalism’s inherent dependence on empire and a war economy, and the contradictions that arise from that dependence. In other words, I believe that if liberalism had not been fatally weakened by the incessant attempts to roll back the New Deal, liberalism might have found the strength to free itself of dependence on empire and a war economy. Reference here, again, the untimely death of John Kennedy because of JFK’s reported determination to withdraw from Southeast Asia after the 1964 election.

    The possible alternative of disengaging from Vietnam after 1964 is particularly important because - and THIS is hardly ever mentioned - of Johnson's decision to fight the war without paying for it, but borrowing instead. This is perhaps THE crucial decision that sets the stage for the following half century: 1) the increasing dependence on the emerging Euro-dollar market, which legitimizes finacialization and predatory hot money; 2) the stagflation of the 1970s, which discredits Keynesianism and legitimizes radical "free market" nostrums and creates the "neo-liberal" economics faction within liberalism; and 3) the collapse, in August 1971, of the Bretton Woods system of managed exchange rates, which unleashes the tsunami of financial trading based on speculation in currencies and interest rates.

    Given the course of history generally sketched by the three points above, it certainly seems that American liberalism is entirely dependent on empire and the war economy. But my point is that there MIGHT have been a different history that disproves the point - which all hinges on the assassination of Kennedy.

    And as Dan Kervick notes at Naked Capitalism two comments below mine:

    The system of New Deal liberalism in the United States, with activist government heavily engaged in the economy running a comprehensive social safety net and constituting a sizable public sector, is no different from what in Europe is more accurately called “social democracy”. And yet the most prosperous social democracies in northern Europe show no imperialistic proclivities at all. There is thus no deep or inherent causal connection between New Deal liberalism and imperialism.

    No doubt liberalism has been corrupted. Chris Hedges has documented this painful truth. But what were the agents of corruption? There were more than the two Stoller points to here. I suspect that if given the chance, Stoller would lengthen his essay.

    A conservative is a scab for the oligarchy.

    by NBBooks on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 07:02:20 AM PST

  •  Nice try (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    foufou, Southside

    Here's my theory:

    The president has liberal critics (like Stoller). They've drooling at the idea of a challenge - ANY challenge - to the President from the left.

    When the President's critics realized that Ron Paul admirers overlap a tiny bit with some of Obama's young (former and present) suppoters, they can up with a tortured justification for defense of Ron Paul.

    We need incremental change in America. We have a pretty decent system, but it needs to be tinkered with. You people think we need a revolution. That's not liberalism.

    Ron Paul ideology is disgusting. Liberalism was never about isolationism. It was never about a 100% pure civil liberties state. It's about finding pragmatic ways to curb the excesses of capitalism. It has nothing to do with your crusade against Obama.

    LOOK IT! I WROTE A COMMENT ON BIG ORANGE SEXY TIME!!!!

    by Mark Warner is God on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 07:41:20 AM PST

    •  No, actually, you're comment's quite disgusting... (16+ / 0-)

      ...there is no "crusade against Obama" here. In fact, I'll be voting for him for re-election. And, I'll be doing what I can to influence friends and family to do likewise. HOWEVER, I'll also continue to criticize the administration for their conservative, Wall Street-centric management of our economy...which, still, is a far cry (better) from where things would be, economically, if the GOP was in control at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

      "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

      by bobswern on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 07:55:18 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Who are you talking about? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LaEscapee, Marie, PhilK

      There is no challenge to Obama "from the left" and I'm not going to "drool" over something that isn't going to happen.

      Sure, if I thought that there was a chance a more charismatic, less kooky version of Dennis Kucinich could wrest the nomination from Obama and win the election, I'd endorse that in a heart beat. But that ain't going to happen.

      So I will vote for Obama. But that's all I'm doing. I'm not giving him money or working on his campaign because he does things I think are wrong (as opposed to simply being imperfect versions of better policies).

      I certainly don't think of myself as any kind of "revolutionary"-in fact all my so called "revolutionary" "friends" used to always call me a revisionist and "reformist". So if anything, I think of myself as a reformist.

      But I think there is a difference here in what kinds of reforms we want. At any rate, I no longer see Obama as someone who is moving us in the direction of the kinds of reforms I want. I see him as a typical, self serving politician who cleverly manipulated a lot of activists into thinking he was something other than he is-just another version of Clinton. If I had wanted this bs I would have just supported Hillary and been done with it. The best i can say for him right now is that he is holding back the tides of the crazies.

      Maybe you think that policies like continuing the blockade of the Palestinians, the bizarre double standards in foreign policy, his legitimization of most of the Bush era "war on terror" policies, his legitimization of too big to fail, etc. are all "progressive" and moving in the right direction. I don't.

  •  This has been my main thrust (6+ / 0-)
    But by and large, the recognition that the old liberal order was built on certain alliances and structures that have collapsed and turned malevolent is still not widely understood.

    People sense that something is deeply wrong, but that is still just a feeling, an unpleasant tickle in the mind, not enunciated or acknowledged.

    This has been the central idea I've been repeatedly trying to pound home, the collapse of the 20th Century Synthesis due to the disappearance/destruction of its social basis, and the resulting rise of the 21st Century Social Crisis due to the death of the very idea of the social in the context of the unchallenged hegemony of Capital.

    The problem of course for any of us who try to raise/analyze/respond to this new social reality is that too make sacred oxen get gored by its implications, and thus while these points cannot be honestly gainsaid, uit makes it all the more imperative to make sure this understanding is marginalized and not allowed to gain any traction.  Of course,  denial of reality has its own rather sadly predictable consequences, but establishmentarian defenders of the status quo are inveterate hands at maintaining the ethos of denial despite its consequences.

    The law, in its majestic equality, forbids rich and poor alike from sleeping under bridges. ~ Anatole France

    by ActivistGuy on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 07:48:56 AM PST

  •  Heh. Talk about making an easy distinction (0+ / 0-)

    into a mess.  

    Contra Stoller, there is indeed a conflict within liberalism, but it is precisely this: a matter of how much intervention is necessary. It is not a fundamental conflict of ideals.

    Of course, that's absolutely right.   It's also why Paul ...oh, I'm sorry, Paul's IDEAS are such non starters.   Everyone acccepts that wars are either necessary (because bad people exist) or become necessary (because people stumble into them).  It's simply a judgment call on when we should do it.  As long as you can't declare that Poland was wrong to resist Germany in 1939, it's only a question on where you draw the line.

    My wife says I couldn't have done it. And leave my wife out of this.

    by Inland on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 07:54:35 AM PST

  •  But FA Hayek Says Day Care Leads To Death Camps! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hester

    Ron Paul's fans of Austrian Economics live over at the  Ludwig von Mises Institute, where they worship FA Hayek.

    Hayek won the the Nobel Prize for economics, but like so many intellectuals went completely off the rails when he decided to dabble in another field, sociology.  In "The Road To Serfdom" he made many preposterous predictions about how Social Democracy would lead to tyranny. And he later became a huge fan of Pinochet.

    http://www.nytimes.com/...

    Hayek's brain fart is the only part of his work remembered by the wingnuts.  Also, none of them seem to have read his essay "Why I Not A Conservative," where he says that conservatism will always be more hostile to civil liberties than liberalism.  (Google  it for a pdf)

    Mostly they seem to know it as this antiunion comic book form published in Look Magazine and online at the von Mises Institute. It's quite funny.

    http://mises.org/...
     

    There’s always free cheddar in a mousetrap, baby

    by bernardpliers on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 08:06:10 AM PST

  •  BTW (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gooderservice, satanicpanic, PhilK, jrooth

    the fact that the only time these issues are even allowed to emerge is in the ridiculous context of Ron Paul, who is then used as the package to reinforce the marginalization of those who would point out the gathering storm of the 21st Century Social Crisis, characterizes why we as a society are absolutely failing to even begin to come to grips with these changed realities.

    The law, in its majestic equality, forbids rich and poor alike from sleeping under bridges. ~ Anatole France

    by ActivistGuy on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 08:08:14 AM PST

    •  Here's my main problem (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      decitect

      with using RP as a messenger- he's nuts.  You're not going to get anywhere saying "well, he thinks flouride is poison but he's right about this!"  That's not going to build credibility.  That and the racial element- having a rich white man telling everyone what's really important is just a bit much for some people to take.  I think OWS went a long way in getting people to think about things in a way that the left can support.

      "Back off, back off, he's got his own dreams that won't come true!"

      by satanicpanic on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 09:23:46 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Austrian Economics At www.AdolphThe Great. com (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hester

    Browsing for information about Fascism, I found another person who share Ron Pauls love of Austrian economics over at www.AdolphTheGreat.com, a "nonracist" Hitler fan site.  That site is now down, which is a shame because it provided many WTF?!?  moments.

    There’s always free cheddar in a mousetrap, baby

    by bernardpliers on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 08:13:59 AM PST

  •  I'm not entirely sure what I think (8+ / 0-)

    about this critique of liberalism, but it is certainly worthy of discussion and there are a lot of complex and overlapping ideas which would require a lot of time to wade through.

    One important difference is between those who are partisan Democrats and those who are partisan "progressives" (I use the scare quotes here because the word covers a large range of territory).

    What I think the partisan Democrats don't see is that many of us partisan progressives have "supported" (and will continue to "support") Democrats against Republicans and will defend the President against what we view as irrational, unfair and illegitimate criticism from the radical right (again I use scare quotes with "support" because what it really means in this context is qualified: I'll vote for Obama, I worked on his campaign last time around but will not do so again and gave money to him last time around but will not do so again).

    But what I am not going to do is praise Obama, or the Democratic Party as a whole as a vehicle through which to enact "progressive" ideas. In fact, as I see it, Obama is wiling to engage in policies which go the wrong way-as opposed to policies that don't go far enough.

    I think that the word progressive is being used to include a whole range of people who probably have very significant differences on substantive issues. I've heard some New (i.e. Corporate) Democrat types refer to themselves as "progressive" from time to time on cable shows. I don't have much in common with these people at all, save that they are not as crazy as most Republicans are these days.

    There is a distinction also to be made between those who are liberals in the American late 20th century understanding of the word and those who are leftists. The difference to me is degree of critique: liberals agree with American exceptionalism-I think of Arthur Schlesinger Jr. as the quintessential liberal. Leftists like me don't necessarily hate the U.S. or think it is uniquely or necessarily evil. We just think in the end that it is really just like every other nation state and every other imperial power that has ever existed-though not always as corrupt or depraved as say the Spanish Hapsburgs.

    Obama supports the basic structure of economic-political-military power in the world that is backed by U.S. hegemony. I do not.

    That does sometimes mean that some of the people or groups I may be particularly critical of (economic and political elites) may sometimes be some of the same people that the Birchers and Libertarians criticize. In the end, I think that Birchers and Libertarians are at a minimum incoherent in their critique and pursue ends that are in contradiction with their critiques. By this I mean the end result of their policies-whether intended or not-ultimately shores up the economic and political elites they criticize.

    But just because Ron Paul criticizes the FED doesn't mean that I can't criticize the FED. I may be pro-central bank in the end and anti-Gold standard, so there is a difference.

    But just because a stopped clock says is 12:00 does not mean that I will not say that stopped clock is right twice a day.

  •  Corporate Liberalism (7+ / 0-)

    Way back in the heyday of the 1960's SDS, we called this corporate liberalism: A permanent war economy with a somewhat shabby safety net, a  safety net tolerated by our rulers as a way to keep Americans loyal to the imperial empire and its confrontation with the Soviet Union.

    But times are different now. The USA is no longer the  only economic colossus, there is no more Soviet Union, the labor movement is on life-suport and finance capital has grown into The Blob that ate the economy.

    Now that wars of empire can be fought with fewer soldiers, much like the USA can build cars with fewer workers, unquestioning loyalty to the Corporate State is no longer as important, so our rulers believe that widespread poverty and distress can be contained with a militarized police force and only the barest minimum of a safety net.

    I'm not sure they are right, but their actions certainly suggest that they think so.

    "Don't believe everything you think."

    by BobboSphere on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 08:51:09 AM PST

  •  Interesting. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bobswern

    Of course, this needs better explication.

    But what really seems to be happening in the age of globalism is that recognition that the west's standard of living can no longer be justified unless capitalism and inequality is justified.

    The natural outcome of such theory is not, however, support of the middle class, but justification for even more perverted capitalist inequality, and ever more hazardous financial instruments controlled by capitalist elites, globally.  This is called neo-liberalism.

    In the age of globalism, how fundamental fairness that makes the world a better and more sustainable, democratic and peaceful one for everyone in it can be achieved is the work of progressives.

    Greed's self-regulation is collapse. So is delusion's.

    by Publius2008 on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 09:10:40 AM PST

  •  Yves does fantastic work at (6+ / 0-)

    Naked Capitalism, I was more than happy to donate when she had her membership drive. Today she has a story up on how the GAO is contradicting the whole "TARP made money lie". The latest huckster being Austen Gooslbee.

    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/...

  •  I don't find Stoller's arguments about liberalism (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PhilK, KJG52, decitect

    very compelling; its the same libertarian critique of liberalism just dressed up in a new vaneer.  

    Stoller has the bad habit of attempting to paraphrase his opponets arguments and in doing so mischaracterizing them wildly.  If his argument is that the post war economy and safety net were built on war profiteering and finance, that imperialism has always been at the heart of American prosperity, than he has some valid points.  But that has little to do with liberal vs. conservative, obama vs. greenwald, civil libertarian vs. authoritarian arguments now happening - the alliance between business, state and the citizens is at the heart of American capitalism.  

    Stoller’s argument is that this alliance between finance, the State, and freedom that has long lain at the heart of liberalism is currently breaking down, and that this crisis is cracks in liberal concensus to become visible.

    Does he mean "liberalism" as practiced by left-democrats now or liberalism as practiced by the entire nation?  The alliance between business, state and citizens has always been at the heart of this republic - that it what makes this a capitalistic democracy.   The battle between liberals and conservatives has always been about where to drawn the line between how much power the state should have, how much freedom business should have, and how much freedom and rights citizens should have.  What has happened, in my view, is that business interests have captured the state and the democratic party to the detriment of the individual freedom that liberalism is based on.  

    In a sense liberalism is about dominance; the dominance of the state to uphold and enforce individual values.   That is what I've always believed.  And that is why I don't think Obama is a liberal, at least not on civil liberties - he has shown he is willing use to the state to suppress individual values and liberty.  That is an extremely conservative philosophy which values the freedom of business and commerce most of all.  Threats to commerce are dealt with most harshly and there is no bigger potential threat to global commerce (in the mind of the neo-conservative) than Islamist in control of the world's oil supply.  That is why the neo-conservative is always drawn into conflict with the muslim world; the battle for resources and commerce.  

    The question for me is whether the Democratic Party as a whole is still a liberal party.  I think it is; I think the rank and file still believe in civil liberties but are caught between a rock and a hard place.  There is no realistic alternative to Obama at this time.  

    Ron Paul's critique (I know I shouldn't invoke his name) isn't an attack on Obama - its attack on American style capitalism / democracy since the 1930s.  Ron Paul's attack is on the new deal itself, on the role of the state, particularly the federal government in our lives.   As many have said before, he arrives at the same conclusions on some issues as liberals but by following a completely different road.  And less be clear, Stoller is right - liberals have never opposed war when it is seen as enforcing human rights or individual freedom.   So WWII, the Civil War, WWI and even the Cold War (as it was formulated by propoganda) can be seen as just in the liberal mindset b/c they advance individual freedom.  That is why nary a liberal made a peep when Clinton decided to intervene in Kosvo or Rwanda.  In contrast, liberal anger was at its highest during the run-up to the war in Iraq precisely b/c many believed the war was undertaken for purely economic rationale.  The distinction between the conservative and liberal formulation of war has always been murky (especially now during the War of Terror, but also previously during the Cold War) with business and neo-cons invoking liberal values (remember Bush on the plight of Afghan women) to sale war to Dems and liberals.  Depending on the mission, this formulation has had varying degrees of success.  

    Of course liberals deployed the same tools and theories they advocated for business in the service of the State, which liberals long championed as an alternative to Fief and Kingdom, and what was until WWII the State’s primary concern; war-making. Why do you find this entirely accurate assement of political history offensive?

    I hate it when people disparage others by stating a controversial (and it than case VERY WRONG) opinion as fact.  One of the state's duties is war-making; that is the duty of all state's that have ever been.  But state's have many concerns.  One of the chief concerns is to protect citizens from other citizens within it borders; therefore most states employ some type of police force.  States also need to settle disputes between citizens before they lead to violence; thus most states, even dictatorships, have courts.  However in the 18th century (not WWII -geesh) something changed; people started to believe that the state's role was not simply as an arbiter of disputes between citizens but to ensure that citizens have their rights protected against other citizens and from the state itself.  That is why governments have legislatures, that is why their is a Bill of Rights - to protect individuals from the state and each other.  Legislatures, democracy are suppose to be the ultimate stop-gap toward's dictatorship - vote the bums out.  That process has been corrupted by business, but fixing that corruption doesn't mean a complete tearing down of the system.  

    I would say modern liberalism, the one that Digby talks about and Stoller mocks, is based on the idea of ensuring and providing individual liberty from the state as well as other citizens.  That is where libertarian and liberal thought breaks.  The libertarian only worries about state oppression; the liberal understands that there is also the threat of oppression from citizens, including powerful business interests.  Conservatives over the last 30 years have tended to believe that the government should protect certain moral values b/c they are necessary for a functioning republic (see Santorum).  Dems on the other hand have been more concerned about individual values and protecting them from business AND the state.  This is where Obama breaks down, b/c he doesn't seem to be very interested in protecting citizens from the state, and this is where most rejection of his policies lie. Libertarian thought ignores the threat from citizens and focuses on the state; in times like this when it seems the state is running rampant, libertarian thought seems more appealing.  And (not to disparate libertarians) that is why libertarian thought has long been supported by white supremacist groups; they see the state as taking away their freedom to discriminate against other citizens.  Liberals see the job of the state as ensuring every citizen has the same freedoms and rights, regardless of identity.   Much of liberal thought on education and social safety nets also springs from this, but this time focusing on the job of the state to ensure equality of opportunity.  

    I went on for longer than I wanted.   This is just to say it is perfectly rational to critique President Obama from the left without falling into some moral crisis about modern day liberalism.  Because Obama liberal track record is missing on civil liberties.  

  •  I respond to Stoller here (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    foufou

    here.

    He's way off base with this.

  •  this is my problem with the spat (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    foufou

    I view the 2012 election existentially.  I'm in. #tfy

    Flirting with the redirection/influence philosophy proved wicked short-sighted in 2000.  Navel-gazing.  We also ended up unprepared with a vetted back-bench in 2004 (Kerry et al) [Even Dean was not fully vetted - liked what he said, etc.] And as much as Obama detractors like to say, Obama was not Left.  And I knew it, too.  Don't give a shit right now.

    Glad Ron Paul says something; I never pay attention to him anyways (stopped clock...).  But even the GOPers are ignoring him; and that should tell you something.  Left/Progressive/Liberals should too.  He's distracting and he comes at his positions from the wrong motivation.  

    I'd rather Stoller Greenwald et al just keep making their critiques of Obama without coopting Paul's seeming popularity.  It's like corporate Democrats trying to coopt OWS.  

    I think it's time to circle wagons.  You go to battle with the army you got, not the one you wish you had.

    Critiques can be acknowledged tactically, so we're prepared to win the election in 2012 (left critiques can be used by Righties too).  No matter who is the GOPer nominee, their agenda will drive this country off the cliff.  And my lessons from 2000: don't fuck with a 3rd party when the stakes are high.  And my lesson from 2004: you gotta give it your all against the Rebumblican liars, cheaters, and theives - coz they're coming to steal the government by hook and SuperPAC.

    I'll gladly entertain this debate after Obama's won his second term.  There is no one else better between now and Nov. 2012.

    Talk to me in December.

    bonzo goes to bitburg should be required listening...

    by decitect on Tue Jan 10, 2012 at 11:46:56 AM PST

  •  Interesting discussion (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bobswern

    I don't think it's really all that controversial to say that the welfare state and the warfare state are two sides of the same coin. I would agree that starting with the Civil War and intensifying with the Great Depression/WWII, and then reaching sort of a peak with the Vietnam War/Great Society, there has been a sort of evolving social contract: a greatly expanded and more powerful federal government that exercises its influence in more and more affairs, domestic and foreign, with federal monetary police uniting the two by allowing for the deficit spending required to support it.

    When Democrats are in power, it tilts more towards domestic issues, and when Republicans are in power, more towards foreign policy. But the tilts are a matter of degree, and it's not hard to find examples where Democrats support, say, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan or assaults on civil liberties, or where Republicans support Medicare Part D or No Child Left Behind.

    The second part of Stoller's thesis, that the end of cheap oil threatens this social contract as never before, I'm not so sure about. If by "the end of cheap oil", he means unsustainable debt and greater international competition for capital, then I might agree. There are inevitable cutbacks in the size and scope of the U.S. federal government looming. The "crisis" in liberalism will come as the foreign policy side of the federal power coin begins to come into conflict with the domestic issues. If our social safety net is being decimated, why should we fulfill our side of this social contract and support these expensive foreign interventions?

  •  I don't think that (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    alizard, Nada Lemming, bobswern, denise b

    there is any way these 'wars'  under the guise of the GWOT can be called intervention. Geeze we spent decades fighting the largely cooked up cold war via geopolitical hot wars and spilled blood all over the world for what? To stop a economic theory that was as big a fail as this current unchecked nasty ass free market globalism is?

    All these arguments about what liberalism is or isn't are beside the point. Where's my habeas Corpus? Where's some trust busting or 'intervention' on austerity for the benefit of Goldman Sach's ruling the world? Where is some universal heath care that's not geared for the profit of the extortion industry? Where is our concept of common good? Where's some intervention on dark places like Gitmo or Bagram?  Now there's some intervention I would support. Propping up this new world order which is a fail and in no way democratic not so much.  

    Thank god for OWS and the younger people who haven't yet been brainwashed into thinking that fear of other be they Muslims or Republicans, Commie's/Socialist's  is any reason to vote or support this global madness that tells you were all going off apocalyptic cliffs of mass destruction unless we prop up the 'new world order' that is the same old anti-democratic order that always lurks around waiting to pass itself off as liberalism or inevitable.

    Tell me again why RP is the problem? Look in the mirror as GG said and quit trying to pass this intolerable status quo off as liberalism or haggling over the degrees of who amongst is or isn't a real Democrat or progressive. Ron Paul is not dangerous he's a nasty ass old anti-democratic extremist crank.

    The shit storm he unleashed is at  to me a good thing. At least we are actually looking at what we support and call Democratic. Why have the Democrat's taken to being Federalist to the degree that we all are praising Hamilton. What happened to the party that was liberal in the plain old sense of for the people and humanist democratic values?

    Thanks for a dairy that actually generated real dialog and not mindless adherence to promoting the intolerable meme of we are not as nut's, or even worse this is the best ever.  

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